Funding for research into mental health and wellbeing on Scottish islands

The Scottish Rural Health Partnership has received Scottish government funding to research and increase awareness about the mental health and wellbeing of people living on Scottish islands.

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Butt of Lewis coastline and lighthouse

The partnership, which is hosted by the University of the Highlands and Islands, was awarded £4,488 from the Healthy Islands Fund that is managed by Inspiring Scotland. The fund supports the delivery of the Scottish government’s National Islands Plan, notably its aim ‘to improve and promote health, social care and wellbeing for those living in Scottish island communities’.

The research will be led by Dr Janet Heaton, Senior Research Fellow in the university’s division of rural health and wellbeing. The study will review existing literature and other information on Scottish island mental health and wellbeing, and will include a focus on the Western Isles, Orkney, and Shetland. The main aims are to improve understanding, increase awareness of where challenges lie and create a valuable knowledge base that will inform further research and interventions around mental health and wellbeing in Scotland’s islands.

Professor Sandra MacRury, Scottish Rural Health Partnership executive chair and academic lead, University of the Highlands and Islands, said:

“We hope the findings from this research will be a valuable resource for researchers, third sector organisations and community groups to access and help share best practice. Any gaps in knowledge identified by the study will inform the research agenda for island mental health Scotland-wide and could contribute to future policy.”

Strengthening research activity in the islands is one of the key themes of the university’s Islands Strategy, which also encourages research that will help improve understanding of the specific issues faced by island communities.

John MacDonald, chair of the Scottish Rural Health Partnership steering group, said:

“This funding is a welcome contribution towards the Partnership’s aim of providing a single source of knowledge about remote and rural healthcare.”

The study is due for completion in March 2022 and the Scottish Rural Health Partnership hope to host an online seminar soon after as the first step in sharing findings.