YOUNG people in Scotland are demanding equal and better access to mental health support. The call for an improved service has been made by the Changing our World group which advises the Children in Scotland charity.

“They told us that ‘all children and young people should have access to mental health support when they need it, based on rights, trust, privacy – and without discrimination,’” said Children in Scotland CEO Jackie Brock.

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“We have a responsibility as an organisation to share this view as widely as possible and to try to progress understanding within civil society of why our advisory group feel so strongly about this issue.”

She said the charity had been encouraged by the response from the Scottish Government’s taskforce on Children’s and Young People’s Mental Health to the demand.

Chair Denise Coia said the taskforce had been told “loudly and clearly” that new approaches were required to improve the mental health of young people as there was a “disconnect” between what was promised and what was delivered.

“I have spoken to a number of young people with mental health problems over the past few months,” she said.

“They say they don’t want to be told a service is not suitable for them and then ‘signposted’ elsewhere. It’s difficult enough to find the courage to ask for help without having to navigate a maze of services, tell your story several times and face rejection. They don’t want to enter any wrong doors when they seek help.

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‘‘While it is good we are taking a rights-based approach to offering services, children and their families report a disconnect between what is promised and what is delivered.

“While we are increasingly aware of mental health issues facing young people, some find it hard to speak up, either because they are unable to or because they are frightened or ashamed.

‘‘For example, children who have experienced abuse in early childhood, who may end up being in care or living in poverty. Such children require additional support to enable them to access opportunities available to other children in Scotland. All young people have a right to thrive and good mental health is essential to fulfilling that ambition.”

The call for equal and better access to mental health support is now part of Children in Scotland’s 25 Calls campaign which is making 25 calls aimed at improving the lives of children and young people across the country.

“All children and young people should be able to, and know how to, get support with their mental health and wellbeing when they need it, without discrimination,” said Brock.

‘This is their right and shouldn’t be taken away or judged by people. There should be access to different types of support whenever you need it, whatever your situation, with people you can trust and who respect your right to privacy.”

She added: “The taskforce’s participatory approach underlines to me that we are never going back to the days when long-term decisions are ‘done to’ children and young people without their consent.’’