It’s World Mental Health Day. Again.
I live and breath mental health. I work really hard on my own mental health, I work really really hard on helping my young people at work with their mental health. My five year old knows she has a monkey in her head that controls her emotional responses. Her monkey is called Sofia, and let me tell you, sometimes Sofia is a bit of a knob.
The thing is, we’re all aware of mental health. There’s a great mini film out just now that has Prince William in it. Jesy Nelson has just released an amazingly powerful documentary on her own battle with mental health.
Mental Health is everywhere. We’ve got awareness coming out of our ears.
Here’s some facts though;
Last year in Scotland the average time a child or young person waited to have a consultation appointment about their mental health was 11 weeks. The average. I personally know young people with active suicide intent that waited a year. In 4 years the amount of young people waiting 18 weeks to have an initial consultation has risen from 15% to 26%. 18 weeks. 5 months. To live with a diagnosable illness with no support.
Did you know that 1 in 10 children aged 5-16 have a clinically diagnosable mental illness. 1 in 10. So there’s probably 3 in your child’s class.
Since 204 the number of referrals for mental health support has increased by 22%. That’s 33,270 young people in Scotland alone.
But the number of referrals rejected has gone up by 24%. So we’re seeing less of our young people than we used to but with an escalating crisis.
And let’s not kid ourselves here, it’s a crisis.
I’ve dealt with more young people with active suicide plans since August than I have fingers. None of them have had help yet. None.
We should be losing sleep over these statistics.
Mental health covers everything from general well-being, to short term periods of anxiety and stress, to severe and persistent mental illness.
We know that poverty is a major contributor and we now have 1 in 4 Scottish children living in poverty.
I’m not even going to start talking about trauma and adverse childhood experiences because it paints such a depressing, seemingly unmanageable picture.
The future seems bleak for mental health supports and for our young people.
We’ve had enough awareness thanks. It’s time we just take some action. Because this isn’t someone else’s problem, it’s not happening somewhere else. This is our problem. This is happening here.
And action we can take. You can take.
I presented at work recently on how we are all much more equipped to deal with mental health than we realise. Because we all have it, we all deal with it in different forms, we are all relative, we all get it.
I watched two young people support each so extraordinarily today that I had to swallow back some tears.
I take a vested interest in how my kids, my friends and my colleagues are behaving and presenting.
It’s the little things that make the difference.
- How are you?
- What was good about today?
- Tell me something you like about yourself.
- I understand. I feel like that too sometimes.
We need to stop looking outwards for what others can do for our young people, for we are the first line of defence. And we are way more equipped than we realise.
It’s about time we stopped trying to raise awareness. We’re all aware.
It’s time we took some action. To start saying that we will not accept under staffed, over worked, not fit for purpose support services.
And while we do that, we need to take two minutes out of our day to say Hello to someone. To ask how they are. To let people know that we see them.
And together we can make a difference. Because we’re all in it together. And so are our young people.