Lack of access to mental health services for children and young people

Date: 16th May 2017
Category: Mental health

SAMH have reported that 19 children and young people in Scotland are let down by the mental health system every day. Last year, nearly 7,000 children and young people did not receive help for mental health problems. These figures were released during Mental Health Awareness Week.

SAMH have launched a major new campaign to pressure the government, NHS and councils to improve support and services for under 16s affected by mental health issues. It says currently three pupils in every class are affected by a mental health issue before they are 16.

The 'Going To Be' campaign aims to raise awareness of the scale and urgency of the problem. It stresses the need to provide early support to young people long before they are diagnosed with a recognised condition.

Billy Watson, chief executive of SAMH, said: "Half of mental health problems in adulthood begin before the age of 14, so investment in solutions for children and young people now and broader mental health education is crucial.

"We know the devastating impact that mental ill-health can have on our relationships, our work or education, our wellbeing, our hope and our quality of life.

"A mental health problem shouldn't just be defined by a diagnosis but it is often only then that an intervention is triggered. It's got to change.

"Improving the self-esteem, resilience and well-being of our young people must be a priority as the situation is urgent, it's not getting better and SAMH wants to see it change."

Recent research conducted by the Scottish Youth Parliament revealed that when it comes to finding help for mental health, only a quarter of young people know where to go. Its report 'Our Generation's Epidemic' drew on the voices of thousands of young people on this issue.

The Going to Be campaign calls for a review and refocus of mental health support for children and young people, and investment in early intervention services to help young people at the earliest opportunity.

The week of 8 - 14 May was Mental Health Awareness Week across the UK. Called 'Thriving not Surviving', activities surrounding the week south to explore why too few of the population are thriving with good mental health, rather than why so many people are living with mental health problems.