The innovative work of mental health café project, Keep the Heid, has been commended in a parliamentary motion tabled by Martin Whitfield MSP.

Keep the Heid was started in November 2021 by Emma Jackson with the Haddington mental health café at the Trinity centre. The project expanded last year to include a Tranent service, at the Fraser Centre, and there are now plans for a pilot in North Berwick.

Mr Whitfield’s motion highlights the successful service and its recent independent evaluation report, which identified various positive impacts for those who have attended the Haddington café, as well as recognising its ambition to expand the service to other communities.

The South Scotland MSP recently met with Ms Jackson to discuss the project’s development this far and her plans for developing it further in East Lothian and other areas.

Martin Whitfield MSP said: 

“Keep the Heid started at a time when people’s mental health was coming under greater strain due to the impact of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis. Since its launch it has proved to be hugely beneficial to those who have attended the cafés in Haddington and Tranent.

“The informal nature of the project’s café services, providing a supportive network without the need for any kind of formal diagnosis, has clearly been important to its success and that has come through loud and clear in the evaluation report. 

“I believe Emma and everyone else involved in the project deserve great credit for helping provide this much-needed service. I was pleased to acknowledge its success so far in this motion at Holyrood and wish them all well for the future.”

The full motion reads as follows:

Title: Keep the Heid Mental Health Cafés

Motion Text:

That the Parliament notes the success of the Keep the Heid mental health cafés in Haddington and Tranent; further notes the publication of an independent evaluation report of the first café in Haddington, which started in November 2021; understands that the report details the positive impact the café is making on those who access the service and highlights the various benefits they reported having gained from it, which include improved self-confidence, reduced isolation and new friendships, increased resilience, greater structure and purpose, enhanced interest and participation in other community-based support networks, practical help through information sharing and general feelings of comfort and support; further understands that one of the project’s key ambitions is to expand the service into other communities, including Midlothian; notes that a pilot café, funded by the North Berwick Trust, in partnership with North Berwick Coastal Community Connections, will begin in April 2023; commends everyone involved in establishing, running and expanding the Keep the Heid mental health cafés for their innovative approach to supporting people with their mental health, and wishes the project every success in the future.