A BORDERS MSP says it was a "privilege" to welcome colleagues and Scottish organisations to a debate on mental health in rural communities.

Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire Rachael Hamilton hosted the cross-party roundtable discussion on mental health support at Holyrood.

The focus of the debate and discussion was the need for improved access to mental health support for those living and working in ruraly parts of the country, such as the Borders.

Ms Hamilton said: “It was an enormous privilege to hold a debate on supporting mental health in rural communities.

“Mental health in rural areas is a different challenge to tackling the issue in urban areas. We must be sensitive to this when coming up with solutions."

At the roundtable discussion, Ms Hamilton was joined by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon (SNP), and representatives from the third sector, including Change Mental Health, RSABI, NFU Scotland, and Scottish Land and Estates.

The Borders MSP added: “I was grateful to my MSP colleagues from all parties who supported my debate and spoke encouragingly about tackling this issue.

“The discussion that followed the debate was a great opportunity to talk about what more we can do for people struggling with their mental health in these communities."

Ms Hamilton is now expected to launch a new policy which aims to improve mental health services and establish a network of mental health advisors who serve remote and rural communities.

She said: “Having engaged with groups like Change Mental Health and RSABI over these issues, I am pleased to be announcing my new policy to establish a network of mental health advisors in remote and rural communities.

“This would make it easier for people to identify signs of poor mental health and enable them to get the help they need.”

There are a number of services you can contact if you are worried about your own or a loved one's mental health.

Guidance on accessing mental health support can be found on the NHS Inform website.

You can also contact organisations such as Change Mental Health, SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) or Samaritans.

If you are in distress, in a mental health emergency, or feeling suicidal, contact NHS 24 on 111 or call Samaritans on 116123.