SAMH comment on Youth Commission report

3rd June 2019

Last week (Thursday 30 May) the Youth Commission on Mental Health Services showcased over a year’s worth of hard work, setting out their vision for mental health services in Scotland in a report to Scottish Government.

SAMH has been delighted to work in partnership with Young Scot to deliver this programme, which saw 23 young people from across Scotland come together to play a significant role in shaping the mental health agenda. Throughout its lifetime, the Commission consulted with over 100 organisations, and engaged with 120 other young people, and this final output is a real credit to the hard work involved.

At SAMH, we’ve been campaigning on young people’s mental health services for the last few years, so it’s encouraging to see some of the issues we’ve been talking about high on the Commission’s agenda too.

Support to allow for a seamless transition from child and adolescent to adult services was a key recommendation, with a call for a service for 16-25 year olds which is focused on stage of life not age. Choice is highlighted as being important here, and throughout the report, with overlapping services to give young people options on the best care for them. Better transitionary care and extending Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is something we’ve called for as part of our Going To Be campaign.

While services are of course a key consideration, the Commission has also identified universal provision as a vital requirement, including education. This ties in with asks around training for all school staff and counselling services in schools. The Commission are calling for a whole-school approach, standardised across Scotland with training, counselling support, safe spaces, crisis protocols, and access to peer-to-peer support referenced as part of this.  Last year saw a commitment from the Scottish Government on counselling services in schools and on training for teachers.

The Commission also highlighted the need to reduce stigma and educate the general public to ensure young people can access services without feeling judged. As managing partners for See Me, Scotland’s national mental health anti-stigma and discrimination programme, it’s great to see this highlighted in the report. See Me are doing fantastic work with young people and stakeholders across Scotland, and it will be important for this to continue to flourish so that young people can grow up feeling able to ask for help free from discrimination.

The report covers a broad range of ambitious and original ideas to consider. From reducing waiting times to eight weeks; to incorporating the positive and negative impacts of social media into mental health training programmes; to producing guidance on safe self-harm. To distil the past 16 months of work into this report is a huge achievement in itself, and the bold and far-reaching recommendations illustrate this.

The report is now in the hands of decision makers and we hope to see a meaningful and timely response from them. There’s been an urgent need for change for some time now, and it’s important that this project marks the start of a fundamental shift which places young people at the heart of improving mental health care and services.