First Minister quizzed by young people on mental health

30th October 2023

Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, today (Monday 30 October) met with 20 young people to answer their questions on mental health support in Scotland. The special youth-led event is part of SAMH’s (Scottish Association for Mental Health) birthday celebrations as it marks 100 years of being there for Scotland’s mental health.

The young people, who are all passionate about campaigning for better mental health support, met with the First Minister at the National Museum for Scotland in Edinburgh, where they took part in a roundtable discussion on mental health support before helping SAMH to celebrate their centenary with birthday cake on the museum’s roof terrace.

The conversation covered a wide variety of topics, including waiting times for specialist services, how to tackle youth suicide, and support for neurodivergent young people.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “I’d like to commend the absolutely vital work of SAMH in its centenary year. The organisation has a long history of supporting people and families with their mental health, and has continued to evolve in order to ensure it provides expert and targeted support.

“I was inspired to hear from the young people, who spoke so passionately about mental health. The work that SAMH does to tackle mental health stigma, to stand up for the rights of those who need more support, and to champion better mental health care has never been more important.  

“The Scottish Government will make sure we are doing everything we can to make Scotland a place where every young person can grow up loved, safe, nurtured, and respected.”

Billy Watson, Chief Executive of SAMH said: “Young people have always been important to SAMH – right back from our origins in the 1920s, to recent years, where our work campaigning for better mental health support for children and young people sits alongside our dedicated services for young people and their families.

“So, as we celebrate our centenary year, we were delighted to be able to offer young people the opportunity to meet with the First Minister in an informal, relaxed setting, and to ask him the questions that matter most to them.

“Young people today face huge challenges as we deal with the impact of the pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis, and climate change, and we know that demand for mental health support is growing faster than the current systems of support can meet. We look forward to working with the First Minister and the Scottish Government to ensure that collectively we  provide young people with the effective and timely mental health support they so desperately need.”

Isla Buchanan, 23, from Perth, facilitated the discussion. Speaking about the event, she said: ““We still continue to have a stigma around mental health. A lot is yet to be done to support everyone with their own mental health. I hope by meeting with the First Minister, it will promote mental health and what else can be done to support services even further.”

Following the event, SAMH will be inviting the young people who attended to help shape their future work on children and young people’s mental health.