THE recent focus on mental health ("Why we need a Budget for Mental Health", Herald Agenda, October 10) is clear in reporting a global crisis. It is evident that mental health is given a lower priority within our health services than physical health.

I take no issue with this, the statistics are clear – but we are not told why there should be this recent surge, nor what individuals can do to reduce the chance of falling victim to the malaise.

Many medical problems can cite smoking as a contributing factor , cancer being only one of the multiple examples. Medicine can do a lot once the problem is diagnosed, but a priority piece of advice must be "don't smoke".

Obesity can, and increasingly does, lead to type B diabetes. Advice – "eat wisely and reduce your weight".

Your chances of having a healthy heart are greatly improved by increasing the amount of certain exercise. Advice – increase your exercise activity levels.

All of the above are well publicised and well understood, but what can we do regarding mental health? Health services are undoubtedly under-funded in this area, but what can we, individually, do to help ourselves?

Always better if we are advised by a notice at the top of a dangerous cliff, thus reducing the call on an ambulance at the bottom.

Alex Leggatt,

73 North Gyle Loan, Edinburgh.