Today is World Mental Health Day, and if you or someone you know is struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Created by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) and first celebrated in 1992, every year there is a different focus. With this year’s theme being young people and mental health in a changing world.
Explaining the theme, the WFMH wrote on their website: “Imagine growing up in our world today. Constantly battling the effects of human rights violations, wars and violence in the home, schools and businesses. Young people are spending most of their day on the internet – experiencing cybercrimes, cyberbullying, and playing violent video games.”
Suicide and substance abuse numbers are rising, LGBTQ youth are feeling isolated and being victimised, and young people are developing mental illnesses but due to a lack of education, they have very little knowledge of how to manage their mental illness.
“We want to bring attention to the issues our youth and young adults are facing in our world today and begin the conversation around what they need in order to grow up healthy, happy and resilient,” the WFMH went on to say.
“Let us all use this year to emphasize the needs of our young people. Its time to take a stand and demand more for this vulnerable population – our future depends on it!”
With waiting times for mental health services in Scotland being the worst on record, more needs to be done to address the problem. 11 out of the 14 health boards failed to meet the waiting time for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). And even with 3 of these meeting the requirement – the 18-week target is still far too long to wait.
A report conducted by Young Minds found that 75% of young people get worse while waiting to be seen by CAHMS. Director of Policy for Young Minds, Marc Bush said: “Our research revealed only 9% of young people found it easy to get support, with many facing unacceptable waits as well as reporting barriers at every step of the way, from being referred right through to receiving treatment.”
However, there have been efforts by the Scottish Government to tackle mental health in young people. Plans to increase councillors across all secondary schools were announced last month with an investment of more than £60 million being made into school counselling services. Supporting an extra 350 counsellors and providing £20 million for another 250 school nurses will ensure that there will be a counselling service in every secondary school.
Mental health education has also been introduced into the curriculum for excellence in Scotland. The section called ‘health and wellbeing’ has a specific focus on mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing.
Although we are seeing major changes in the way mental health is dealt with in regard to young people, this does not make up for an entire generation that missed out on mental health education and support.
The grim reality is that we are in an age so reliant on multimedia communication, but we are unable to communicate our feelings to each other. A lack of support has left that generation feeling isolated with nowhere to turn. Scotland has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK. ChooseLife NHS statistics have shown that in 2016 there were 728 registered suicides in Scotland, this was an increase from 672 in 2015. The suicide rates among men were also two and a half times more than they were for females in 2016.
50% of mental health problems were found to have been established by age 14 and 75% by age 25. An NUS Freedom of Information request also found that there was an increase in suicide rates among students and that there has been a 47% increase in students requesting access to mental health support services in Scotland.
The stigma related to mental health means many young people are afraid to admit when they are having problems. To break the stigma, we need to try and develop new initiatives that allow people to talk comfortably.
There has been a rise in the use of technology to help manage mental health. A variety of apps have been developed specifically targeted at young people. As well as apps for your phone, some charities are now including text services instead of phone calls.
1 in 4 people hang up when they get through to a suicide helpline because when they hear the voice at the other end of the phone, realisation kicks in. So moving the focus to text allows people to keep that sense of anonymity and creates a sense of comfort when opening up.
The first text service developed in Scotland was MikeysLine – an Inverness based charity. MikeysLine also has their own app called Bee Appy. It allows you to scale your mood daily and plot it on a graph, so you can track your progress over time, it gives top tips for coping with stress, depression and anxiety.
As well as Bee Appy, there are a variety of other apps available on the Appstore. Some of these include ‘What’s up? (uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to cope with depression and anxiety), Think-Ups (uses mood-boosting games, exercises and activities) and TalkLife for Stress & Anxiety (a peer support community).
Change and new ideas are being made in relation to tackling mental health. We may not be there yet, but we’re on the right path.
If you’re worried about your mental health or are having suicidal thoughts, contact a help service listed below. Talking won’t solve all of your problems but it is a brave and important first step.
• Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm
Text 07786 209697
• Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5 pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page
• Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123
• Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill
• The Silver Line – for older people
Call 0800 4 70 80 90
Talk to someone you trust
• Let a family member or friend know how you’re feeling. They may be able to help you and offer a strong support network.