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Young people set out recommendations for the future of mental health services

Young people from across Scotland have set out their vision for how mental health services in Scotland should be accessed and operated.

The Youth Commission on Mental Health Services report, supported by SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), the Scottish Government and Young Scot is based on the findings of 23 young people aged 15-25 from across Scotland, with varying experiences of mental health services.

Over the course of 16 months, the Youth Commission engaged with other young people, service providers and multiple sectors to inform their recommendations.

The recommendations put forward by the Youth Commission cover several areas that they felt had to be addressed. The Youth Commission have outlined recommendations to improve mental health services; education; community and public opinions; finance, policy and rights; and training.  

Recommendations include ensuring services take a person-centered approach; providing access to peer-to-peer support in every secondary school; and making Mental Health First Aid training a standard requirement for all organisations working with young people, bringing it in line with laws on First Aid training. The Commission has also called for an increase in sustainable funding across sectors, at a national and local level, to increase capacity of services and ensure access to quality support.

Neva Brown, a member of the Youth Commission on Mental Health Services said; “I joined the Youth Commission because I’d seen too many people not get the help when they needed it, even when they had tried to access help. I also felt with my own personal experience I’d be able to help so many people and stop them from going through what I had to.

“I have gained so much from being a part of the Youth Commission, I started as a very anxious person that would struggle to go anywhere myself, to someone that travels across Scotland by themselves and has the confidence to speak openly about mental health issues.

“I hope the Youth Commission allows more young people to know their rights regarding their mental health and makes services more accessible to everyone, so no one is left to suffer alone.”

Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey said:

“I’d like to thank the Youth Commission for their comprehensive report looking at how we can work together to improve mental health services for children and young people across Scotland.

“The report, and the amount of work that has gone into it, is a credit to Young Scot, SAMH and all the young people involved, who have shown bravery and tenacity in bringing their own personal experiences to this project.

“We will carefully consider how we can take the Youth Commission’s recommendations forward, and we will give you a full response in the coming months.”

Billy Watson, Chief Executive of SAMH said: “The Youth Commission for Mental Health Services has provided young people with the opportunity to play a significant role in shaping the mental health agenda, creating lasting change for the delivery of mental health services for generations to come.

“These recommendations round off the Commission’s fantastic work, and it’s important that this project now marks the start of a fundamental shift which places young people at the heart of improving mental health care and services. We’re looking forward to the next steps.”

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot said, “The Youth Commission on Mental Health Services has produced a vital report in the conversation of the future of mental health services in Scotland.”

“This report was produced by young people who are passionate about how young people can lead the way in shaping our services and setting out a vision for mental health services which benefits all young people. These recommendations are a huge step in realising how young people can act as system changers, influencing areas of their lives that affect them most.”

You can download the report here.