MCR’s Mentoring Programme

MCR’s mentoring programme is due to launch in the Highlands later this month and Wick High School is one of the schools they will be launching in! What does this mean? Who are MCR?  MCR support young people who have experienced disadvantage, to realise their full potential through education. They do this through our school-based mentoring programme – matching young people with a fully trained volunteer mentor. 

This is a fantastic opportunity for young peoples! Their website is provides more information and includes inspiring short video’s showing the difference having a mentor can make to the young people.

If you need further information, feel free to ask MCR or ourselves.

New Volunteer Opportunities

Donating money isn’t the only way to give to charitable organizations, many of whom rely on volunteers for various services. If you find yourself with free time on your hands on your weekend, or during the week, you could consider putting in some community service. Not only will you help a good cause, but it can also be a way to meet people and learn new skills.

Celebrate Microvolunteering Day

You want to get involved and give back to the community, but can’t fit another big commitment into your busy schedule? Then microvolunteering might just be the thing.

Microvolunteering is a small, bite-sized task or project, that is quick and easy to perform. Best of all there’s a range of things you could do online, in as little as 30 minutes. Donating processing time on your computer, signing an online petition, or promoting a charity on social media are all examples of microvolunteering that you could do today.

Mental Health in Caithness: Survey Results.

A survey and report completed by the Social Isolation and Mental Wellbeing Action Group. A subgroup of the Caithness Resilience Group, formed at the beginning of Covid-19.

November 2020

Research purpose and method used.

The purpose of this research project was to investigate the resources available in Caithness surrounding mental health, from the community’s perspective. The research project was conducted by the Social Isolation & Mental Wellbeing Action Group, a sub-group of the Caithness Resilience Group set up at the beginning of the pandemic.

Participants were invited to the research project because the Social Isolation & Mental Wellbeing Action Group were looking for the opinions of the Caithness community surrounding Mental Health.

Participation in the study was voluntary and participants were allowed to choose not to participate at various stages in the research.

The procedure involved filling out an online survey; paper surveys were also distributed at the coop supermarkets in Thurso and Wick and PPP in Wick. Paper copies were limited from being distributed elsewhere due to Covid-19 restrictions. All the information received by the participants is confidential and any personal identification within the data or quotes shown have been redacted to maintain anonymity. All private data is stored in a password protected electronic format.

The survey questions were a mix of closed and open questions on the subject of mental health and services available. The paper has been split into sections. Each section reflects one of the questions asked in the survey. They have been presented in bar and pie chart form. The open questions have been sorted into categories which were created out of common themes that appeared from the written feedback.

All closed questions were a requirement. Therefore, they were answered by all 236 participants.

234 participants were online and 2 participants were received from the paper surveys distributed locally.

Question one
Which of these areas do you identify with, in relation to your mental health circumstances? Please tick all that apply.

The highest percentages were 88.1% with anxiety, 77.1% with stress and 73.3% with depression. Followed by insomnia at 28.8% and chronic pain at 23.7%.  16.9% had psychological problems as well as 16.9% with an eating disorder. 11.9% had problems with bullying/peer pressure and 11.9% with alcohol misuse. 11.4% suffered with abuse and 6.8% with substance misuse.

Question two
What support did you access when you first sought help for your mental health?

82.2% of participants stated that they sought mental health support through their GP, 42.8% went to family members and 34.3% talked to their friends. 18.2% used the internet. 13.1% used physical exercise. 12.7% used holistic therapies. 11.9% used privately paid for therapy. 6.4% used local support groups and 2.1% used charity groups.

Question three
Please share any positive or negative experiences you had seeking support, within the last 12 months.

This question was an open question and allowed the participants to share their experiences. The feedback received has been separated into a series of categories which were created out of common themes. The chart’s below shows the common negative and positive responses received.

Question four
How would you rate your experience with mental health support in Caithness?

65.3% responded they’d had a poor experience with the mental health support received in Caithness. 22.9% rated okay. 7.2% rated good and 4.7% rated excellent.

Question five

The participants were asked to “use this space to describe the reason for your score“.

This was an open question in response to the ratings given in question four. The feedback received has been separated into a series of categories which were created out of common themes. The chart’s below shows the common negative and positive responses received.

Question six

Were there any activities/groups/events you took part in which helped your mental health?

In response to this question 55.9% answered that they had not considered an activity/group or event to help support their mental health. 25.4% responded that they had and 18.6% scored that they had never thought of using an activity/group of event.

Question seven

If yes, please give further information on the activities and or groups you have used for support.

Participants were then asked an open question to give further information on what activities/groups or events they had used.

Question eight

What do you think could have helped prevent your situation escalating? Please tick all that apply.

69.5% said they would like more support from NHS and mental health team. 67.4% would like access to counselling followed by 60.2% who would like free access to professional therapies (Psychologist/Psychotherapist/Psychiatrist).  55.9% wanted a better awareness of the support available, 54.2% wanted a reduction in the stigma attached. 39.8% wanted free access to holistic therapies. 33.5% wanted shorter waiting times with their GP. 25.8% wanted more community support groups and 18.2% wanted better support from friends and family members.

Question nine

Please add any other thoughts on this here, including why you felt unable to access this service at the time.

This was an open question which asked participants to expand any thoughts around being unable to access the service they required.

Question ten

Do you think Caithness could improve on initiatives and/or groups to support mental health?

88.1% said that yes Caithness could improve on initiatives and groups. 8.5% said they had never thought of using a group before and 3.4% responded no, they did not think they needed improving on.

Question eleven

Please use this space to tell us more.

We then asked the above open question to allow people to elaborate on the reason for their choice, from question ten.

Question twelve

What are the barriers to accessing mental health services?

Please select all that apply.

The highest percentage from this question was a lack of professional services for my needs at 72.9%. 55.9% stated there was not enough awareness of the support which is available. 47.9% selected travelling distances to services/lack of transport, followed by concerns around stigma at 47.5%. 45.3% had concerns over nothing being available for the younger generation. 26.3% selected that there was no community support group relative to them. 22.9% selected issues around family pressures/abusive relationships, worries about parents/carers/family members finding out). 19.1% said there was nothing for the older generation and 14.8% selected there was a lack of childcare when attending appointments/services.

Question thirteen

Please add any further information on barriers you’ve experienced, here.

Here we asked participants to expand on their answers from question twelve.

Question fourteen

Would you find it useful to have an anonymous, online resource that would signpost you to appropriate services and support?

90.3% of participants stated they would find it useful to have access to an online anonymous resource that could signpost them to appropriate services and support. 9.7% selected that they would not find this useful.

Question fifteen

Please tell us about any alternative services you’d like to see.

This was an open question which allowed participants to make suggestions.

Question sixteen

How would you like to be able to access support?

Please tick all that apply.

80.9% voted to access support in person. 54.7% wanted to access support via the internet. 47% selected via email. 44.9% would prefer by telephone. 32.2% would like access to video calls. Three people select other and wrote the option of a text counselling service.

Question seventeen

Have you ever found yourself in a crisis state due to mental illness?

To question seventeen 90.3% stated yes, they had found themselves in a crisis state due to mental health. 9.7% voted that they had not.

Question eighteen

If yes, did you have any contact with the following immediately or soon after as a result of this crisis?

Please tick all that apply.

52.5% saw their GP when they got to crisis point. 16.1% were admitted to hospital. 10.2% had psychiatric treatment. 10.2% received counselling. 8.9% went to private therapy sessions. 8.1% were admitted to New Craigs Hospital. 8.1% had been seen by the Police as an emergency response. Approximately 27% selected ‘other’ and wrote that the question was not applicable. Approximately 5% selected ‘other’ and wrote they had gone to friend and family for support at crisis point.

Question nineteen

Please let us know what you feel would make it easier for you (or others) to access mental health services.

This was the final question and allowed participants to summarise what they felt would make services easier to access in Caithness.

Demographic information


236 people answered this question. 29.2% were ages 27-37. 25.8% were ages 16-26. 19.9% were ages 38-48. 16.1% were ages 49-59. 3% were ages 60-70. 3% were below 16. 2.5% were over 70. 0.4% preferred not to say.


236 people answered the how do you identify question. 80.9% were female. 16.1% were male. 2.1% preferred not to say and 0.8% selected other.


236 answered this question. 48.7% were employed. 13.2% were unable to work. 9.3% were at college/university. 7.2% were unemployed. 5.9% were self-employed. 4.7% were in school. 4.7% preferred not to say. 4.2% were retired and 2.1% were seeking employment.

Marital Status

232 answered the marital status question. 35.3% were single, 31.3% married. 19.4% were living with a partner. 6% were divorced. 4% preferred not to say and 3.4% were separated.


209 people filled in the location demographic section. 93 of those were from Thurso. 83 were from Wick. 6 people were from Castletown. 5 people were from Halkirk.  3 from Lybster. 3 from Inverness. 3 people stated they lived rural with no town. 2 people from Thrumster. 2 people from Latheron and single individuals were from Kiss, Reay, Watten, Bower and Brora.

Summary of findings

The reoccurring themes throughout this document are that respondents would like waiting times to be improved, and would like to see better access to counselling services and/or counsellors who are trained in specialised areas. There was a distinct lack of understanding of what services are available or if they even exist. Respondents found it difficult to access other services – out-with the NHS services. Such as; community support groups, drop-in centres, holistic healing, free support offered alternatively to the NHS. One of the barriers to accessing services was the idea of the stigma associated with accessing support.

It was repeated several times that respondents felt there was not enough support for children and young adults under the age of 18. Respondents suggested that the schools were not adequately trained or supported to offer the support their children needed.

Issues were also raised over availability of support for children and young adults with Autism, and that anything available to them in terms of support or therapy had to be done in Inverness, causing more issues such as increased family pressures, escalation of issues and inability to travel.

Respondents highlighted the need for a service for people in crisis, and the need for services to be available outside usual working hours.

A need was also highlighted for community groups facilitated by professionals who have skills in helping people with mental health needs. This was also reflected in the thoughts of people who looked for support from AA and NA.

Respondents were dissatisfied with the limited services available, especially when only being prescribed medication or CBT. Those that did get CBT had to wait a long time for it and often felt that it did not provide the support that they needed. People who were prescribed antidepressants either felt that they were ‘fobbed off’, or felt that it was seen as an easy solution, to increase their medication, when their mental health deteriorated. Group sessions were also problematic, young people are vulnerable as they are expected to participate in group activities alongside people who are decades older.

Frequently, respondents felt that they had missed out on appointments because their mental health had deteriorated and they were unable to make scheduled appointments. Consequently, they then had to wait longer for their next appointment and felt there was a lack of understanding and empathy on this issue from the NHS services.

There was also a good portion of positive feedback from respondents who stated that their GP’s had been extremely supportive and that they had got the support that they needed from the mental health team, antidepressants and CBT. However, there was a higher proportion who felt like that support was not offered to them, or that it did not work for them in tackling their mental health needs. Several people said that is not appropriate to involve the police in mental health responses, especially to escort to hospital.


The summary of this research is based on the survey undertaken by 236 members of the Caithness community. Generalisations shouldn’t be taken from the conclusions and automatically applied to all other Districts. This research applies the concept of reliability: that what has been researched will be of interest to other community groups and organisations, who are concerned with the welfare of the Caithness community.

*** The appendix of case studies can be supplied upon request. Please do so, to along with reasons for requiring more detailed information, how you will use it and share it with others.

Connectivity in Caithness

From the Facebook survey results, we got a total of 68 responses. 55% of the responses received commented on there being poor internet. Some of the comments where that:
No infrastructure investment from BT as their exchange ‘has fibre’ advised moving to 4g
ancient infrastructure, poor/non-existent 4g signal
– Good until demand increased
– infrastructure is the issue more than service providers as having tried all providers.
– Given up on broadband and moved to Vodaphone or EE 4g but it can’t cope with increased demand
– You have to get expensive modifications to get a moderate connection
26% found that they had a good connection and that the internet struggled at peak times. 
And 19% stated that they had fair enough broadband connectivity in some areas but that it was slow or that they had to move to 4G to stay connected, which can be expensive. 
A lot of people commented on how challenging it had been to school their children during lockdown because of the connectivity issues and that it caused problems in currently having to work from home.

The service provider with the larges proportion of users was BT.
17 Respondents using 4G or mobile data, 45 using broadband, and 2 switching between both.