Scotland facing child mental health crisis

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The Mental Health Foundation has launched a new campaign to mark World Mental Health Day

10th October 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Scotland faces a growing child mental health crisis unless emotional wellbeing is taken more seriously, a charity has warned.

Launching its new campaign, Make it Count, the Mental Health Foundation Scotland has warned that mental health can no longer be treated as extra-curricular.

Latest stats showed 8,000 children in Scotland with severe mental health problems were waiting to see a specialist at the end of June 2018 and 2,116 of them had been waiting for more than 18 weeks.

The Scottish Government announced more school-based counsellors and mental health first aid training for teachers in its Programme for Government, but the charity has warned that this won’t solve the problem and called on the government to focus on prevention.

Research from the foundation has shown that 25% of Scottish parents feel academic pressure and exam stress has caused their children to feel stressed. And 58% of Scottish young people say that a fear of making mistakes has led them to feel overwhelmed or unable to cope.

Frances Beck, a mum and teacher from Stewarton in Ayrshire, was left devastated when her son Conor took his own life earlier this year, after struggling with his own mental health.

She said: “The most effective way of ensuring good mental health for all is to prevent poor mental health developing in the first place and improve early intervention when it does occur.

"It is intuitive, therefore, that we start in schools, teaching our children and young people about mental health and wellbeing, and developing their emotional resilience by teaching them positive coping skills.

"Bullying, maltreatment, poverty, relationships and belonging are just a few factors that children and young people may face - this was the case for my son Conor. He, like myself, was bullied throughout his school life and I have no doubt he would have benefited from being educated about mental health and how to effectively cope with that stress.”

Toni Giugliano, policy manager at the Mental Health Foundation Scotland said it is vital that teachers receive mental health training.

He said: “Our research shows that academic pressure is exacerbating many young people’s mental health. The Scottish Government’s focus on raising attainment in reading and writing must not be at the expense of young people’s mental health.

“It’s unacceptable that teachers are still not trained in mental health in Scotland. School staff desperately want the training to explore the 'real-life issues' that create distress – be it body image, relationship worries, exam stress or how to handle difficult conversations on social media.

“Mental ill health is on the rise and schools must be equipped to respond and prevent distress by helping young people build resilience and cope with difficult situations. Unless we do that we’ll continue to see more children in crisis.”