Statement in reponse to Scottish Programme for Government announcement on mental health

Isabella Goldie, Director of Delivery and Development at the Mental Health Foundation said: “Recent research shows that mental health problems, and a range of signs of distress including self-harm, are on the increase for young people, especially girls. It therefore particularly disappointing to hear that waiting times for young people are not only not being reached but that the situation is worsening. That young people are having to wait much longer than they should for the right support gives us reason for great concern, given the importance of intervening early in mental health problems to prevent them from becoming established.

“However, we welcome the strong commitment towards mental health as part of today’s Scottish Programme for Government, which recognises how challenging this issue is increasingly becoming, and that there is a growing need to improve the current provision of specialist services for young people.  The promise of counselling provision in all schools and a focus on strengthening community provision to support mental wellbeing, is a particularly strong development. This is something that we have been campaigning for now for some time, and it’s great to see the importance of this crucial resource for young people being acknowledged.

“This also highlights a recognition from the Scottish Government that it’s not all about specialist services and we need to invest in creating conditions in which young people can grow into resilient adults and to prioritise the provision of the right early intervention services for those that do begin to struggle. 

“We also need to work with young people to understand more about those societal factors that are damaging their mental health. We know from our own study into Stress that body image and social comparison are major concerns for young people and that abuse, and bullying leave long shadows into adulthood. We hope that the Government’s Commission on Young People will take a long view on how we better respond to young people’s needs now but also has the courage to ask those big questions about why our young people aren’t thriving.”