Scotland

Embed mental health in school curriculum, says youth commission

Sad young woman Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Waiting times to access mental health services should be reduced to eight weeks, the report recommended

Mental health needs should be taken more seriously, receive more funding and be embedded in the school curriculum.

That is the verdict of Scotland's first Youth Commission on Mental Health.

A group of 15 to 25-year-olds were recruited to the project and the resulting report follows a 16-month study into mental health services.

The commission said fundamental change was needed to the way young people with mental health issues were supported.

The government has welcomed the report and said the views of young people who used services would be taken into account when shaping future policy.

Facing barriers

One of the commission's main recommendations was for waiting times to access child and adolescent mental health services to be reduced to eight weeks. 

The report also said crisis services needed to improve and that a much broader range of support was needed in school and the community. 

The findings pointed to gaps in front-line provision and concluded that even when professional help was available, younger people often faced barriers getting appropriate help at the right time. 

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Image caption Mental health education and support should be embedded within the curriculum

Many of those who took part in the commission had experience of accessing mental health services themselves.

They emphasised that young people needed to be treated as individuals through a "person-centred" approach.

They also called for mental health education to be embedded within the school curriculum and for education professionals to be trained in mental health support.

World-leader

The report said Scotland had the opportunity to become a world-leader in mental health service provision for young people and suggested a series of measures to achieve that goal including;

  • Improved funding for services and organisations and a fair allocation of that funding, including to education and workplaces.
  • To make young people aware of what support they are entitled to and their rights.
  • For the Scottish government to develop guidance for all employers of young people up to the age of 25 in the responsibility and support of young people's mental health.
  • To never refuse mental health care. The report said signposting does not equal mental health care and anyone who requests support be directly linked to a service.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The commission called for better awareness of the services available

Mental Health Minister, Claire Haughey, said: "I believe, and hope, that the tide is changing in terms of Scotland recognising the importance of talking about mental health in our society today.

"And I believe that this report and the recommendations within it will add to that ongoing conversation."

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