Insights from decades supporting Moray’s mental health

23rd May 2024

Two of our long-serving support workers, Evie Smith and Denise Macdonald, share their insights from a combined 48 years with SAMH – and why working in mental health has meant so much to them. Evie has just retired after 32 years with SAMH, and Denise retires after 16 years.

"There are some things we wish more people knew about mental health, because there is still quite a lot of stigma surrounding talking about mental health in general.

"Obviously we have spent decades working to overcome that stigma, and things have changed for the better in recent years. People with a public platform are playing a key role in helping de-stigmatise the conversation too, with celebrities like Ruby Wax and Sir Chris Hoy, SAMH Ambassador, opening up.

"Sometimes when we tell people what we do for work, they’ll reply: “Ooh I couldnae do that”. But they don’t see the difference you’re making every day. When you’ve seen someone be really unwell and then helped them, that’s so rewarding. So one of the things it’s important for people to understand is that recovery from mental illness is not only possible, it’s the goal that we at SAMH work to help people achieve every day.

"Elgin is so small that you do bump into people you've supported sometimes. You might have helped someone with their recovery or getting their own tenancy - then you see them in town years later and they’re married with kids and a good job and doing really well. People have thanked us before for giving them their life back. It’s an amazing feeling.

"There are even occasions when it might take you a few moments to recognise someone you supported through a tough time, because they look so well now. Seeing how much progress people make when they get the right support means the world to us.

"We are also lucky that our service is well supported by donations in the community. And these donations keep our service going so we can help more people with their mental health and wellbeing. People care about what we do, and they do all sorts to raise funds, from church events to skydiving.

"Every day you come in is an adventure, so if you’re considering a career in mental health, come and give it a try! And no two people who use our service are the same. Because everyone is unique, we adapt to support people in different ways that best suit them. This team in Moray is adaptable and full of people with loads of different skills, although we’re all working to the same values and principles.

"There are around 100 services users every week here in Moray, and all of us probably know most of them, which makes it easier if you need cover for someone who’s off sick (or who's retiring!). It’s a great team we’re leaving people with – and we’ll miss them."

SAMH’s Moray service supports people leaving psychiatric inpatient wards, or with ongoing mental health problems, to self-manage their mental illness and live well in their community.

If you would like to find out more about fundraising to support SAMH’s Moray service, please contact and Tracy Grant at