This post has been written by Kirsty, a member of the Our Minds Our Future Group in Scotland.
Mental health is a crisis in our society that has been around for too long. That tall brick wall known as stigma is like a barrier, preventing any efforts in confronting this crisis. Data suggests about half of all cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14, and 75% of them develop before the age of 25. This, however, only reflects those who reached out. Recent times have shown conversations are beginning to open up, data is getting collected and resources being created. People’s general awareness of mental health is growing and brick by brick we are challenging the stigma and taking down that wall. But the services currently in place don’t meet the requirements of our nation; change is needed.
The Scottish Youth Parliament and SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) provide the opportunity for young people to lead this change through the “Our Minds Our Future Scotland” project. Group of like-minded young people with different understandings and experiences are gathering to address this change in a project putting the voices of young people at the centre of mental health service design.
This project allows for policy makers and significant figures involved in instigating any change to better understand what is needed from the people at the heart of it. By having our voices heard in the big decisions that are made; decisions that affect us, it’s providing a chance to change the statistics. It’s allowing us to be the generation to change it.
It is OUR MIND; it is OUR FUTURE.
Mental health has been a huge part of my life from such a young age and has shaped me to become the person I am now. I have faced challenges with my anxiety, times facing depression that left me devoid of feelings. Through countless stages of uncertainty and absence of control over my own life, I was able to recognise my need for support but had no idea where to go. Stigma kept me silent.
But I have created opportunities for myself since then to allow myself to grow. And now, I’m fuelled by passion, driven by determination and empowered by my insight and understanding to stand up and contribute to this change.
But it will take a lot more than one stubborn wee Scottish lass.
We need to start having these open conversations, to create the habit where we all check in and look out for each other. We want to create a society where the support that is so desperately needed, is accessible. And brick by brick, we will achieve this.