Thousands of people have lost their jobs as a result of the oil and gas downturn.
For those affected, the struggles of paying bills and finding other work has been well publicised.
But what often goes unseen is the detrimental impact these pressures can have on a person’s mental health.
Now, VSA and the Scottish Mental Health Association (SAMH) have teamed up to launch Open Up.
The campaign urges anyone who has been affected by the downturn to seek support, and also encourages others to look out for symptoms in their friends and loved ones.
VSA has faced unprecedented demand for its services since the stark realities of the crisis began to be felt across the region.
Chief executive Kenneth Simpson said: “We are aware, more than ever recently, of the down turn in the economy locally caused by the oil and gas crisis in the North Sea and how that’s had an effect on people in all areas of life.
“People have been made redundant, hotels, restaurants and cafes have been affected, some of them have closed down, the unemployment rate has gone up.
“Our big appeals at Christmas, which are for supporting families in need, found a far higher percentage of people coming and among them, people who previously wouldn’t have needed support.”
Billy Watson, chief executive at SAMH, added: “We’re already seeing in difficult economic times, particularly in the north-east, people are seeking support for their mental health in numbers like we’ve not seen before.
“People shouldn’t be afraid to talk about mental health problems and why they’re occurring.
“We all have mental health, and we’re all susceptible to mental health issue, whatever your circumstances before there’s absolutely no shame in having a problem.”
Their campaign has been supported by Aberdeen South and North Kincardine MSP Maureen Watt, who is also Scottish minister for mental health.
“Everyone who works in the oil and gas industry – and I was there myself in the down turn in the 1980s – is wondering if they’re going to be the next person laid off, or have indeed be laid off – it’s an extremely stressful situation,” she said.
“People shouldn’t bottle it up, they should feel able to come forward. Initially to their friends or family, then to your GP. And also to other organisations like VSA or SAMH that are there to help.”
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