SINCE the death of her son, Calum, to suicide in August 2017, Laura Reid has proved herself to be a charity champion.

She has helped raise more than £10,000 for Support in Mind Scotland to help their ongoing work supporting people with mental health problems.

This saw her land the Charity Champion title at the Scottish Charity Awards 2019, an honour which Laura dedicated to her son, who would have turned 23 last month.

Her main motivation is to try to raise awareness and increase support so that other families do not have to endure the heartbreak which she and her loved ones have suffered since Calum died.

She says it is vital that people are able to speak out about mental health and has backed the Press' new campaign # We Need To Talk.

"People have not been speaking out," she said. "I think a lot of the problem is that there is still a stigma attached to the idea of mental health. It makes me sad that even nowadays, there is an attitude of silence, a compulsion to ‘sweep it under the carpet’.

"Everybody is very different; we all deal with things differently and grieving is a very individual process. This is why I am throwing myself into work to try and help others. For someone else to have to go through this, it doesn't bear thinking about.

"Calum’s death has broken our hearts and our lives so if we can try and prevent some other poor family having to go through that then I am all for it. If being vocal and sharing what happened to us will help then that’s what I will do.”

Laura is well aware of the importance of raising awareness of mental health issues and is equally convinced that funding is vital to try to help prevent the rising number of male suicides in Fife which she has described as becoming an "epidemic".

She said: "We can raise awareness but people need to know that help is there. It is very difficult for young men to open up and talk to one another.

"You sometimes have to wait up to a year for a counselling appointment unless you are in the fortunate position of being able to pay for it and that is just too long for a lot of people.

"I used a charity called Talk Matters for counselling, a service that allows you to pay what you can afford. If you can afford more, you give more and that can help someone else use the service for free.

"By the time you ask for counselling you really are ready for it. I had to wait around 12 weeks for an appointment and the lady I saw was absolutely brilliant. It was almost like life coaching.

"I was looking for coping strategies to help me deal with the everyday reminders. Calum had a wee white Corsa and every time I passed one on the road, I had to pull over because I was overcome with tears. My counsellor helped me to put these reactions in a compartment to deal with later, rather than try to pretend they don’t exist.

"A lot of people don't know what is available. Support in Mind Scotland has been a fabulous support but I had not heard about them previously. It is only after something like this happens that you learn what’s out there.

"A typical GP appointment lasts for 10 minutes and what can really be achieved in that short space of time for someone suffering from depression? While anti-depressants definitely have a place, they are not always the only answer.

"Calum had been on anti-depressants and was also directed to the Mood Cafe website, and I don't think that's particularly helpful but I understand resources and budgets are limited.

"One of my best friends is a practice manager at a GP surgery in Edinburgh. They currently have funding for a full-time mental health nurse and the impact is so positive. Patients receive a half-hour appointment to be properly listened to and guided to the right service, or medication, by a qualified specialist nurse, rather than just immediately given tablets.

"Calum was an apprentice fabricator at the dockyard. The day after his death his workplace spoke to all their apprentices about counselling and mental health services. I was very impressed with that. I don't know if that is something they have continued or if it was a one-off because of what had happened.

"After we lost Calum, his school (Woodmill High School) arranged for talks about mental health, as well as life skills like managing money and I believe they spoke about doing that every year.

"I believe if people are taught to manage their mental health early enough it can help but, again, it comes down to that F word; funding. Woodmill High School had a full-time counsellor at one point but the funding ran out.

"Awareness is important but adequate funding is the biggie and that is not going to happen overnight.

"Mental health issues in young people are not going to go away unless there is dramatic change so we need to talk about it."