We Shape Policy

We listen to people with mental health problems and help them bring about change in Scotland and across the UK.

We work to create change in four main policy areas:

  • Access to Services, Support and Treatment
  • Work and Finances
  • Rights
  • Promoting Good Mental Health

Access to Services, Support and Treatment

People experiencing a mental health problem may at some point need support, treatment or a service. We believe you should be able to ask once and get help fast.

But often that’s not the case. We’re campaigning to make access to psychological therapies (also known as talking therapies) faster and more effective. Read more about our work on psychological therapies.

UK General Election July 2024 - SAMH policy briefing

Public Audit Committee Debate: Audit Scotland Report, Adult Mental Health (May 2024)

Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence Bill: consultation – SAMH response

Delivery of psychological therapies and interventions - SAMH consultation response

A Human Rights Bill for Scotland: consultation – SAMH response

SAMH response to Health, Social Care and Sport Committee: Pre-budget Scrutiny 2024-25

Still Forgotten - Mental Health Care and Treatment During the Coronavirus Pandemic

SAMH response to consultation on a new Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan for Scotland

SAMH response to Scottish Government Mental Health Strategy Consultation

National Care Service - SAMH response

Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland - SAMH Submission

“Decisions were made about me not with me” - A SAMH Research Report on Treatment and Support for Depression

Health and Sports Committee - Social Care Inquiry

SAMH Briefing - Debate on Mental Health - 27th November

SAMH’s View on Student Mental Health

SAMH’s View Extending CAMHS Provision To 25

SAMH response to Consultation on Free Bus Travel for Older and Disabled People and Modern Apprentices

SAMH’s View - Social Care Charging

SAMH’s View - Treatment and Support

SAMH response to call for evidence on clinical governance

SAMH Talking It Out

A SAMH research report on psychological therapies.

Three-quarters of people say their GP would be their first port of call if they needed help with their mental health. And one in three GP appointments involve mental health. That’s why SAMH worked with the Royal College of GPs to survey Scotland’s general practitioners.

We found they were concerned that they couldn’t always get fast access to good services for patients with mental health problems, sometimes saw lengthy waiting times, and experienced a lack of up to date information on local services. 

A SAMH survey Of General Practitioners in Scotland

SAMH’s View - General Practice


Many people find medication helps them deal with a mental health problem. But you should be fully involved in decisions about taking medication, and for some conditions, you should be offered a psychological therapy or other approach first. That isn’t always the case. What’s more, some medicines for mental health problems can cause severe side effects that aren’t always taken seriously. Read more about our work on medication.

SAMH What’s the Script

A SAMH research report on psychiatric medication.

SAMH’s View - Self Harm


Suicide can affect anyone. In 2015, there were 672 deaths by suicide across Scotland. We have made good progress on suicide prevention recently, with an 18% reduction in suicides over ten years. But Scotland's suicide rate is still higher than the UK average. Men are more likely than women to die by suicide, and men in deprived areas are particularly at risk. We want councils to keep funding local suicide prevention co-ordinators, and we want the Scottish Government to introduce better crisis services.

Response to Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee Suicide Prevention Strategy

Response to Scottish Government Draft Suicide Prevention Action Plan

SAMH briefing on Scottish Government debate on Suicide Prevention

SAMH’s View - Suicide Prevention

Work and finances

In most circumstances, good work – that is, work over which you have some control, in a workplace where you are treated with respect – is good for your mental health. But sometimes, a mental health problem means that you can’t work – either for a short period or, in some cases, forever. We believe people with mental health problems should be able to access employability services that help them find, keep or progress in a job, as well as a benefits system that provides a decent income in a dignified way.

People with mental health problems have the highest unemployment rate of any group of disabled people. But the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) approach that SAMH uses helps more people with mental health problems into work than any other employment programmes, at no greater cost. We are calling for the Scottish Government to roll this out as part of its new employability scheme. Read more about our work on employability.

Mental health problems are the most common reason for claiming disability benefits in the UK. We are campaigning for the UK Government to revamp its discredited tests for Employment and Support Allowance, and for the Scottish Government to put mental health at the heart of its plans for replacing Personal Independence Payment.

Social Security Amendment Scotland Bill - SAMH response

Work Capability Assessment: activities and descriptors consultation – SAMH & See Me Response

Adult Disability Payment - Consultation Response

SAMH’s View - Scottish Social Security

SAMH Briefing - Benefit Sanctions and Mental Health

SAMH Briefing - Social Security Administration and Tribunal Membership (Scotland) Bill –Stage 3

SAMH’s view - Mentally Healthy Workplaces

Social Security Committee – Social Security Administration and Tribunal Membership (Scotland) Bill - Call for Views: SAMH response

Scottish Government Debate Disability Assistance SAMH Briefing

Scottish Affairs Select Committee Welfare Policy in Scotland -  SAMH submission

Social Security Committee Benefit take up Inquiry SAMH Submission

Scottish Parliament Members Debate: SAMH Report on Universal Credit and Mental Heath

SAMH response to Consultation on Disability Assistance

It Was a Confusion - Universal Credit: Recommendations for Change

SAMH briefing on Universal Credit Managed Migration Regulations

SAMH response to Work and Pensions Committee Benefit sanctions inquiry

SAMH briefing on building a Social Security System Together

SAMH briefing on Social Security Bill (Scotland)

Social Security Tribunals Regulation Consultation

Social Security Committee briefing - March 2018

SAMH Stage Two Briefing for Social Security Bill Part 1

SAMH briefing on stage one of the Scottish Government’s Social Security Debate

SAMH’s View - Debt

Mind and SAMH submission to the Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into PIP and ESA assessments

SAMH submission to the Work and Pensions Committee Inquiry into Universal Credit rollout

SAMH briefing on Universal Credit Managed Migration Regulations

SAMH Response to Social Security Bill

SAMH’s View - Social Security

SAMH’s View - Employment


We support the Rights for Life Declaration for Change. People with mental health problems too often face stigma and discrimination. That’s why we are a proud managing partner of See Me.

People with mental health problems can be detained and treated without their consent. That’s why we work hard to make laws and processes about detention and involuntary treatment fairer and easier to understand. We campaigned successfully to have the role of default named persons abolished, since this gave people a say in decisions about someone’s compulsory treatment even if that person hadn’t given their permission. And we’ve campaigned for many other changes in the law, too.

SAMH Evidence: Equality and Human Rights Committee Pre-budget scrutiny 2021-22 – impact of COVID-19 on equalities and human rights

SAMH Evidence to Equality and Human Rights Committee inquiry on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on equalities and human rights

Scottish Mental Health Law Review - SAMH Response

Scottish Mental Health Law Review - SAMH Response (second consultation)

SAMH’s View - Compulsory Care and Treatment

SAMH’s View - Stigma

SAMH response to the Equality and Human Rights Committee inquiry on human rights

SAMH’s View - Human Rights

Promoting Good Mental Health

Mental health is one of the main factors that influence how happy we are. And our own research demonstrates that the social and economic cost of mental health problems is £10.7 billion. So there are good reasons why public policy should aim to improve mental health. We want the Scottish Government to make sure all areas of policy, from housing and employment to education and business, are designed to make our mental health better.

Sport and physical activity is one of the most effective routes to better mental health. And you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete like our ambassador Sir Chris Hoy. Simple things like going for a short walk regularly can really benefit your mental health.

SAMH submission: inquiry into female participation in sport and physical activity

SAMH Briefing - Programme for Government 2020-21

SAMH Response to consultation on the new National Public Health Body ‘Public Health Scotland’

SAMH’s View – Physical Activity

SAMH Briefing: Scottish Government Debate on Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity

SAMH response to Health and Sport Committee: Health and Sport Budget 2017-18