Maureen Watt, Scottish Government Mental Health Minister visits the Mental Health Information Station

The Mental Health Information Station played host to Maureen Watt, the Scottish Government Mental Health Minister when she visited the Mental Health Information Station (MHIS) in March. Jane Sutherland, Lead Occupational Therapist, Community Mental Health Services, guided the Minister round the service, where she met with some of the project's partners. She then spoke with a number of people who have benefited from using the service.

The service is free and available every Thursday from 11am until 3pm at the Walpole Hall which is next to St Mary’s Cathedral in Palmerston Place, Edinburgh. It is a support and assessment service offering information and sign posting for anyone affected by mental health and wellbeing issues.

It is led by Occupational Therapists from NHS Lothian in partnership with a variety of key agencies such as Health in Mind, Volunteer Edinburgh and Outlook adult education project.

Jane Sutherland said: “Since beginning in October 2015 we have welcomed over 2000 visitors to the Information Station, 85% of whom were referred by their GP. We are really grateful that the Minister could visit and meet the NHS staff, volunteers, third sector partners and individuals who have benefited from using the service.

“It’s great to give someone the opportunity to speak to a variety of professionals informally over a cup of coffee or tea and provide them with information that may make a positive difference to their lives.”

The drop-in service helps people to explore a wide range of subjects such as mental health conditions, medication, therapies, self-help, support groups and existing mental health services.

The MHIS provides easy access to NHS and multi sector partnerships working together to improve mental health for all. It allows visitors to browse information on display or speak directly to advisors on hand, no appointment required, and provides assistance on how to connect with others and enjoy social opportunities and meet ups. It also offers access to information on Benefits advice and housing guidance.

The service also highlights the wide variety of satisfying and rewarding activities which help support wellbeing. These activities are either free or low cost, and include social and leisure activities, education courses, volunteering, and information on returning to work.

Graeme Walker attended the MHIS shortly after it opened, and he explained how it ultimately enabled him to think about going back to work. He said: “I was under the care of the Royal Edinburgh in September and October of 2015 and as part of the information the occupational therapist gave me, there was a leaflet for the Information Station.

“I came here on the second week it opened and since then, it’s enabled me to be involved in some amazing projects which I would never have found unless I’d turned up on that rainy day in October.”

The MHIS led Graeme to a variety of projects which he says gave him hope where no hope existed before: “I had a notion that I wanted to work in the mental health sector, but didn’t really know how my skill set would fit or how to find jobs in this area. I met a couple of people from employability services and without them I wouldn’t have found the job I now have with Penumbra.”

Neil who was suffering from depression and a constant state of anxiety was advised by his GP to attend the MHIS. He said: “From my first visit I have been impressed by the kind, helpful and polite manner with which Jane and her team treat all people who come to the MHIS.”

MHIS assistance has enabled Neil to take up a volunteering role with Grey Friars Kirk and is now a Volunteer Guide at St Giles Cathedral: “I can say without doubt that going to the Information Station was one of my smarter decisions”

New Mental Health Strategy

The visit coincided with the announcement of the new Scottish Government Mental Health strategy. Improving access to services and supporting earlier intervention is at heart of Scotland’s new ten-year Mental Health Strategy.

The strategy has steps to improve delivery of child and adolescent mental health services – including an audit to look at concerns over rejected referrals, and action taken as a result. For more information about the strategy click on the link below:

The strategy document can be viewed on Scottish Government’s website.

For further information on the MHIS, contact Lead Occupational Therapist, Jane Sutherland on 0131 537 8650. Or email mental health


Mental Health Minister talks about the new mental health strategy at the Mental Health Information Station