By the age of 16, three children in every class will have experienced a mental health problemSAMH, 2017
1 in 5 children and young people who are referred to CAMHS are rejected at referralAudit of CAMHS Rejected Referrals, 2018
Almost two thirds (61%) of young people are moderately or extremely concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on their futuresLockdownLowdown, 2020
Overview: Our recommendations
Our Minds Our Future in Scotland calls on decision makers and service providers to take a human rights based approach to the design and delivery of community based mental health services for young people. A human rights based approach is important because it will ensure services are available, accessible, acceptable, and of good quality.
To ensure community based mental health services best suit the needs of young people in Scotland, and to ensure young people’s rights are met, we believe:
- Young people should be meaningfully involved in all stages of decision making around the design and delivery of young people’s community based mental health services.
- Community based mental health services should be age appropriate, and should be available to all young people up to the age of 25.
- Young people, and those who work with them, should be better educated about mental health, which will help to reduce stigma.
- Signposting should be more frequent, young person-centred, and available in a range of formats.
- Young people across Scotland should receive a consistent level of service, regardless of where they live, work, or study.
- Young people should be able to access support for their mental health and wellbeing, regardless of their personal situation.
- Support should be available in a range of formats, and should be focused on prevention and early intervention.
- Young people should be able to access mental health support when they need it.
A more detailed overview of our recommendations is available below.
Young people’s mental health has been described as our generation’s epidemic, and this has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As most of our research was carried out at the start of the pandemic, the full impact is not reflected in our report. However, the impact on young people’s mental health has been explored through the Scottish Youth Parliament, YouthLink Scotland, and Young Scot Lockdown Lowdown research in April (available here) and November 2020 (available here).
What we did in Scotland
The Our Minds Our Future delivery group is a group of young people from across Scotland, including members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) and other groups. We are all aged 16-24, and the majority of us have lived experience of mental health problems.
We met for the first time at a residential event in March 2020. At this residential, we got to know each other, and discussed the issues around mental health support in Scotland. We also visited The Junction, a community based mental health service in Edinburgh to find out more about this type of service. Before the residential, we all researched the issues young people experience, and the mental health support available for young people in the areas where we live. We used this information to create collages.
From this discussion, we identified ten key themes we think are necessary to enable good, meaningful community based mental health services for young people. These themes are:
Within each theme, we identified a number of issues which we felt specifically related to young people’s experiences of community based mental health services.
We then carried out a literature review, aiming to answer the question ‘What do we want community based mental health services for young people to look like in Scotland?’
We looked at eight existing reports (here) about young people’s mental health in Scotland to understand the recommendations that already exist and to pull out the recommendations relating to each of our ten themes.
Each group’s findings were collated in a single document, which we reviewed as a group to decide which recommendations were the most important, and relevant to the research question. Some of these recommendations were reworded to use language that is more accessible for young people.
Finally, we decided on eight key recommendations from our findings to summarise the main findings from the literature review. These focus on the issues we think are most important to ensure a rights based approach to designing and delivering community based mental health services for young people in Scotland.
Case Study – The Junction
In March 2020, the Our Mind Our Future project group visited The Junction, a Youth Access member in Edinburgh. The Junction is a centre for young people aged 12-21, within the city, to access support for their health and wellbeing. The Junction offers a number of services, including:
- One to One Support
- Sexual Health Support
- Alcohol Support and Education
- Parental Substance Use Support
- Hate Crime Reporting
As well as this, The Junction has a number of projects which young people can get involved in such as SHINE, the Singing for Wellbeing Project, and the Tobacco Peer Research Project.
As a group we thought the facility successfully championed the YIACS model, as they provide a range of person-centred health and wellbeing support to young people, as well as opportunities for young people to share and learn together. Additionally, they involve the young people in growing and developing the service.
We also liked how the service was open to those aged 12-21, as this helps support young people who are not ready to make the transition to adult services. We also liked how young people could access the service without having to gain permission from a parent or carer first, and everything the young person shared was confidential.
Please note: The Junction services and support may not currently be running at full capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our Minds Our Future in Scotland calls on decision makers and service providers to take a human rights based approach to the design and delivery of community based mental health services for young people.
A human rights based approach ensures services are:
Available: Mental health services must be available to everyone who needs them.
Accessible: Mental health services should be physically and economically accessible to all young people, and must not discriminate against young people.
Acceptable: Mental health services must respect young people’s rights and meet the needs of individual young people.
Quality: Mental health services should treat young people as individuals and provide the support and care they need to enable them to participate in society.
Participative: Young people should be meaningfully and actively involved in decisions about the mental health support they receive.
To ensure community based mental health services best suit the needs of young people in Scotland, we believe:
Recommendation 1: Young people should be meaningfully involved in all stages of decision making around the design and delivery of young people’s community based mental health services.
Meaningful participation recognises the important role young people play in shaping their own lives. Through meaningful participation, young people are able to individually or collectively develop and express their own opinions, and influence decisions that affect them and their wider community.
Young people have the right to have a say in the treatment or support they receive.
Mental health support should be person-centred, with a range of options so young people have a choice about the support they receive.
Young people need more information about their rights in relation to confidentiality when accessing support for their mental health.
Recommendation 2: Services should be age appropriate, and should be available to all young people up to the age of 25.
It is important that young people’s age and stage of life, and the level of support they need, is recognised.
Specialist mental health services should be available for young people up to the age of 25, including from CAMHS.
There should be better support and continuity of care for young people to transition from young people services to adult services.
Work is needed to ensure young people are not being stereotyped by mental health professionals and other people providing mental health support.
Recommendation 3: Young people, and those who work with them, should be better educated about mental health, which will help to reduce stigma.
More work is needed to tackle the fear and stigma associated with accessing support and services.
There should be more and better mental health and wellbeing education and awareness for young people, and for those who work with them.
There should be better links between mental health services and the education system.
Young people should be supported to share their mental health experiences.
Recommendation 4: Signposting should be more frequent, person-centred and in a range of formats.
More signposting is needed to make sure young people are aware of their options, and to support their families.
Signposting should be tailored to individual young people’s needs.
Information about mental health support should be written in language that is appropriate and accessible for young people.
Information and support should be available in languages other than English, and should be available in a range of public places.
Signposting should include a range of online and offline options.
Recommendation 5: Young people across Scotland should receive a consistent level of service.
Mental health support for young people should be person-centred, whilst also ensuring young people across Scotland receive a consistent level of service.
A whole-system approach should be taken when addressing children and young people’s mental health needs. This should include collaboration between schools, community groups, primary care, and further/higher education.
Recommendation 6: Young people should be able to access support for their mental health and wellbeing, regardless of their personal situation.
Young people should be able to access support for their mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether or not they have received a formal diagnosis, and/or regardless of the complexity of their needs.
Transport options should be available to support young people to access services where required.
Recommendation 7: Support should be available in a range of formats and should be focused on prevention and early intervention.
Mental wellbeing and early community based support should be prioritised where possible.
Alternatives such as peer support, digital tools, and electronic information should be available and more visible.
Recommendation 8: Young people should be able to access mental health support when they need it.
Support should not just be available between 9am and 5pm.
While waiting for specialist support, young people should receive information about alternative support options which are suitable for their needs.
Better guidance and information about support options should be available to enable young people to access mental health support when they need it.
Support should be given to protect practitioner wellbeing and development, and to increase the number of mental health professionals available to provide support to young people.
How you can help
As we move into the next phase of this project, in Scotland we will be:
- Engaging with young people, the Scottish Government, local authorities, health boards, and providers to promote our recommendations and ensure young people’s views and rights are at the heart of the design and delivery of community based mental health services for young people.
- Organising events to bring young people, decision makers, and providers together to co-design solutions for community based mental health services for young people in Scotland.
You can help us by…
- Sharing our report and championing our recommendations.
- Following us on Twitter – @OMOFScotland.
- Attending our forthcoming events and being part of the conversation about improving community based mental health services for young people in Scotland. More information coming soon!
- Keeping in touch with us by signing up for Our Minds Our Future updates here.
If you or someone you know needs support, there are a range of organisations who can help:
If you or someone else is in immediate danger call 999.
Aye Feel – this website includes a list of organisations who can provide a range of different types of support (here). It also includes information about how to look after your emotional wellbeing and tips to promote a positive mindset (here).
Young Minds – Young Minds is a charity for children and young people’s mental health. Find out more here, or text: SHOUT: 85258. (24-hour support available)
Samaritans – Samaritans is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom. Find more here, or call 116123. (24-hour support available)
Written by: Abbie Wright MSYP, Beth Wallace, Ellie Moyes – Report Sub Group, Our Minds Our Future Delivery Group, Scotland
Edited by: Joanne Aitken, SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and Rosy Burgess, Scottish Youth Parliament
Our Minds Our Future in Scotland: Ally Pax Arcari Mair, Abbie Christie MSYP, Abbie Wright MSYP, Beth Wallace, Corinna O’Malley MSYP, Crisantos Ike MSYP, Dean Robertson, Ellie Moyes, Erin Campbell MSYP, Kirsty Hughes, Liam Armstrong MSYP, Lisa Noble, Maria McGoldrick MSYP, Rachel Elder, Troy Davidson MSYP