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The Scottish Sun launches childhood mental health campaign

The Scottish Sun has launched a major campaign calling for an improvement in mental health services for young people in Scotland, in light of significant shortfalls in current provision and rising suicide rates.

The Scottish Sun launches childhood mental health campaign
Alan Muir: “Scotland’s future is its children; yet we are failing them miserably.”

The campaign – called Mind the Future – focuses on prevention and early intervention, looking at what can be done within the education system, as well as improvements that could be made when children are referred for specialist help.

The three aims of Mind the Future have been developed in conjunction with leading organisations working in the field of mental health: SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health), Samaritans Scotland and the Mental Health Foundation.

The coverage started with a front page and spread leader, key facts and figures on the issues, the objectives and comment pieces from the mental health organisations supporting the campaign.

The campaign will initially be rolled out over the next fortnight and will contain expert commentary, case studies and articles setting out the views of the Scottish Government and opposition parties.

The campaign will continue after the initial two weeks, linking to news stories, statistical publications and important policy events, such as the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government in early September.

The three aims of Mind the Future are:

  1. Proper help for all children referred due to mental ill health, with nobody rejected
  2. Children referred by professionals into child and adolescent mental health services are still being rejected for treatment, more than a year after the audit by the SAMH and NHS Information Services Division on behalf of the Scottish Government. The aim is that every child receives proper help – not simply be sent away and told to look at a self-help website – be that via existing services or via a new framework, including a new national childhood mental health service.

  3. Peer-to-peer wellbeing support in all secondary schools
  4. Every school should be encouraged and helped by government to start a peer-to-peer programme where children support one another, dispel stigma and help with greater understanding of mental ill health. This would help drive cultural change in schools and lead to more children getting the help they require.

  5. Mental health training for all teachers embedded in university courses
  6. Teachers must be equipped with the skills and knowledge to help tackle the mental health crisis. The Scottish Government has pledged to ensure that all councils offer “mental health first aid” training for staff by the end of the 2019-20 school year, but we think that they need to go further and embed mental ill health training in university courses, so it’s not seen as an afterthought. Additionally, all school staff – such as catering staff – should be trained to look out for signs of mental ill health among pupils.

Launching Mind the Future, the editor of The Scottish Sun, Alan Muir, said: “Scotland’s future is its children; yet we are failing them miserably.

“Suicides among teenagers doubled last year amid a childhood mental health crisis that’s spiralling out of control.

“Today – backed by leading charities – we launch our Mind the Future campaign.

“We know there is no quick fix. But our push has three key demands to help stem the current crisis and build the foundations to enable the next generation to cope with life’s ups and downs.

“The statistics exposing this national scandal are damning. Experts say around one in nine children will have a mental health condition while growing up – yet just a quarter are getting the specialist help they need.”

In the past year, more than 5,000 young people referred due to mental ill health were forced to wait over 18 weeks for treatment – including 288 forced to wait over a year. Thousands more who were sent into an under-resourced system as professionals decided they needed help were then turned away – mostly without a face-to-face assessment.

“So far, the Scottish Government has been making the right noises. But it has not yet translated into the action that’s needed.

“Our campaign and its aims are backed by leading charities – the Scottish Association for Mental Health, the Mental Health Foundation, and Samaritans Scotland.

“The experts agree our three asks are far from pie in the sky – nor will they cost an arm and a leg. But they will require a culture shift – and a move away from the sticking-plaster approach of recent years.

“Only by reducing the number of troubled kids will we reduce the number of troubled grown-ups.

“Minds matter far more than society and those in power have so far recognised.

“It’s time for a wake-up call. To think of the future – not just the present. And to halt the shameful toll of suicides and mental illness which threatens to devastate a generation.”