Marking the start of Loneliness Awareness Week, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today set out his party's proposals to boost mental health and tackle what he described as a "crushing wave" of loneliness.
According to a survey of UK adults which took place from March until November during Covid-19 restrictions, one in four (24%) adults in the UK said they had experienced feelings of loneliness.
Prolonged loneliness can negatively impact anyone's mental health, and the isolation caused by the pandemic made everyone more vulnerable.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
"The last 15 months have been hard for everyone, especially those who live alone.
"There is no doubt that the lockdown has led to an increase in loneliness. The fear, uncertainty and the loss of a daily routines and simple joys like meeting a friend or getting a hug were things everyone experienced. It’s taken a toll on us all.
"We need to tackle the fallout from this crushing wave of loneliness.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see mental health treated just as seriously physical health. Queues for mental health services are seemingly endless. We need more qualified mental health practitioners and easier access to local services.
"We also want to see specific investment in activities for those who are particularly vulnerable to isolation, like older people and disabled people. Opportunities for new sporting activities, for example, could help those at the sharp end of social isolation make the world of difference.
"This Loneliness Awareness Week we need to make sure that no one is left behind."