SCOTLAND is suffering a second wave of a mental health crisis brought about by the pandemic, a former MSP who suffers his own daily problems warned on World Health Day.

Marco Biagi resigned his seat in Holyrood in 2016 to look after his mental health and is now hoping to reenter the Scottish Parliament as MSP for Edinburgh Central at the next election.

At its worst when he was younger, his challenges led him to try to take his own life. Biagi believes that we should put as much emphasis on mental health issues as we do Covid-19.

He said: "A lot of people’s coping strategies depend on contact with other people and routines that they have built up. Covid came along and disrupted all of that for these people.

"If you depend on that to prevent social isolation and then lockdown comes along and everybody is stuck in their homes, if that was a one-person household that would be particularly draining.

‘‘I know people who are having almost a second wave of mental health problems brought on by the second wave.’’ The Scottish Government announced its new plan on mental health and wellbeing ahead of World Health Day and emphasised that they will build on their Clear Your Head campaign, the expansion of digital services and the establishment of Mental Health Assessment Centres.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “I doubt there is a single one of us who hasn’t thought about our mental wellbeing, or worried about that of others, at some point during 2020.

“Throughout this year, mental health has continued to be an absolute priority for this government, and we’ve invested £6 million of dedicated funding to support the whole population.’’ The Mental Health Foundation has been tracking the effects of Covid-19 on people’s mental health since the start of the pandemic in March, which has helped to shape the Scottish Government’s thinking on its strategy.

Toni Giugliano, its policy and public affairs manager for Scotland, said: “We found that more than eight in 10, that’s 84% of Scottish adults, have experienced stress because of the pandemic.

‘‘And now just as people are starting to find the confidence again to go to shops, to go to bars, to go to restaurants and maybe see some of their friends, some of these restrictions are coming back in and they are beginning to have an impact on people’s mental health.’’ Giugliano has welcomed the emphasis which has been placed on getting our children back to school.

And he is now hoping that society now takes a more generous attitude to young people in our colleges and schools who are particularly sensitive to mental health issues.

He added: “Whenever we are scaling up these targeted lockdowns, for example with student accommodation, we are also scaling up the support for students’ mental health on campus.

“Student years are really important transition years for mental health. They are transition years into adulthood and we need to understand how that works.

“We need to understand students and young people and why they behave in a certain way. It’s easy to blame students and refer to them as snowflakes but it’s in these years that people first develop a mental health problem.”

Giugliano would be particularly concerned were students to have their freedom of movement curtailed on a longer-term basis and not be able go home either now or for Christmas.

“We need to avoid the situation where loneliness is exacerbated. A lockdown in March is very different to any kind of social restriction in December.

“And we can’t have a situation whereby people are feeling more socially isolated in a month like December.”

Giugliano has also seen the damaging effect that the virus has had on the mental health of older people.

He added: “Months of shielding have taken their toll. It’s really damaging. We can’t go back to a situation where older people can’t go outside and meet family and friends. That is not an option.”

The Foundation believes that the pandemic has shown policymakers how important mental health is across society. He insisted that we should learn from that, and by moving towards a more equitable society we will be able to tackle mental health better.

“At the heart of this is inequality, poverty and the pandemic has exposed the very deep unequal society that we live in.”