“Every generation’s experiences are different from the one before it, and every generation has its own unique struggles. For my generation, one of the biggest struggles appears to be mental health”. Terri Smith – MSYP Edinburgh Northern and Leith

MSYP Terri Smith couldn’t have put it better when talking about the Scottish Youth Parliament‘s research in the Children in Scotland magazine.

SYP_LogoThe SYP research aimed to find out young people’s views on some important questions about mental health, like…

  • Where do you go to find out info about mental health issues?
  • Would you feel comfortable talking to a teacher about your mental health?
  • Have you ever been to counselling or other support service for a mental health problem?
  • Have you ever used a self-help website or app?

Of the 1,483 12 to 26 years olds who took part in the research, there were some worrying findings. Here are some of the figures that came out of the research, and some of the comments that young people made:

  • 70% of young people who felt they had had mental health issues did not know what mental health info, support, and services there were in their local area. “Young people have to seek out information rather than have it available to them before a crisis happens”.
  • 27% of young people surveyed said they did not feel like their school, college, university, or workplace was a supportive place to talk about mental health. Young people said they found it hard to talk openly about mental health – they feel embarrassed, worry about being judged, don’t know who to talk to or who to trust, or worry about stigma. “Mental health isn’t taken seriously in society so that would stop me speaking”.
  • Young people said there were things that mental health services could do better, like taking young people more seriously whatever their age, or there being more walk-in services, shorter waiting lists and more respect for young people’s rights to not tell their families. “Give young people more autonomy and more of a say in what happens in their care, and make sure they stay informed of any decisions”.

So what’s next? SYP have some good ideas for what needs to happen to make things better. As Terri explained: “Young people who participated in the research highlighted that education should play a major part in combatting the mental health crisis. Based on these responses, we are recommending that schools, colleges, and universities provide high quality information about mental health. We want them to consult with young people about the type of information they would like to receive, and involve them in information design. We also recommend that schools, colleges, universities, and youth groups implement a mental health action plan to promote conversations about mental health.”

If you’re feeling low, depressed or anxious, check out Aye Mind‘s list of charities and websites that might help.