A warning was today made about the mental health risks to North-east workers hit by the oil downturn.
NHS Grampian’s annual public health report also outlined the huge pressures hospitals could face in the years ahead because of population changes.
Describing challenges in the short term, interim public health director Susan Webb said some of the thousands of oil workers who have lost their jobs were vulnerable to depression.
She said: “The recent economic impact of crude oil prices may present a significant mental health challenge in Grampian, with both individuals and families being affected by loss of earnings.
“Changes in welfare reform may also result in the need for increased support around mental health.
“Being in work can be protective against poverty but, moreover, being out of paid employment is bad for health, increasing the risk of premature mortality by more than 60% and increasing the risk of morbidity, especially poor mental health. Although Grampian has relatively low levels of unemployment at around 2%, we acknowledge that unemployment, in-work poverty and poor quality work all present significant public health challenges.”
Overall, Grampian is still faring better than the Scottish average across a range of health and wellbeing indicators, ranging from cancer incidence to “children in poverty”.
But Ms Webb added: “Our population is getting older and with age, people are more likely to develop more than one long-term condition such as diabetes, dementia or heart disease.”
She said that “without making substantial changes” the number of general emergency admissions to our hospitals could rise from 70,000 to 96,000 each year by 2020.
NHS Grampian is working in partnership to promote exercise and health eating, and to persuade people to avoid smoking and boozing.
Ms Webb said: “A renewed focus on maintaining and improving health in today’s younger age groups will result in reduced incidence of serious diseases, such as coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer.”