It’s Got to Change

'Going To Be' is SAMH’s campaign on children and young people’s mental health.

Half of mental health problems in adulthood begin before the age of 14 and three quarters before 24.[1] Investment in solutions for children and young people now and broader mental health education is crucial.  A mental health problem shouldn't just be defined by a diagnosis but it is often only then that an intervention is triggered.  We need to act faster. 

It’s got to change.  Mental health support for children and young people requires review, refocus and investment in early intervention services to help young people at the earliest opportunity.

There is much to do, and over the life of ‘Going To Be’ we’ll be campaigning for change. But we think three key actions need to happen now:

Create a programme to train all school staff in mental health.

Teachers were first promised training in mental health in 2005. Education Scotland says everyone working with children and young people needs health and wellbeing training. Yet we still have no comprehensive programme. SAMH believes teachers should learn about protecting mental health and identifying problems both before and after they qualify as teachers.  And support staff need training too: for example, catering staff may be the first to spot the signs of an eating disorder. But young people say teachers are not always well equipped to talk about mental health. The new Scottish Mental Health Strategy commits once again to rolling out mental health training in education. This time, we need to make it happen. Teachers and pupils can’t wait any longer.

Estimated cost: £4.4m.

Find out more about our research with school staff on mental health training and download the 'Going To Be... Well-Trained' report here.

By 2020, provide counselling services across Scotland’s schools.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland all have strategies on counselling services in secondary schools. Children in Wales and Northern Ireland have guaranteed access to schools-based counselling. Why are Scotland’s children and young people missing out?  The evidence from elsewhere in the UK is that schools-based counselling works. We do need a whole school approach to mental health, and counselling is only part of this: but it is an important one. We must provide this service in Scotland: soon. 

Estimated cost: £9m.

By 2020, let young people stay in specialist services till age 25.

It can take a long time to get into specialist children’s mental health services. And when you turn 18 (or 16, in some areas), you have to change to adult services, or cope on your own. But young people say that this change is difficult: neither service feels right. In the long term, we think there should be a specialist service for 16/25 year olds. But this will take time, and today’s children and young people can’t wait. So we want young people using mental health services to be able to stay until age 25, if they choose.

Estimated cost: £19m.

[1] Kim-Cohen et al., 2003; Kessler et al., 2005

Passionate about young people’s mental health? Sign up to the ‘going to be’ campaign and join thousands of others as we work to create positive change for young people in Scotland.