Today (Thursday 10th October) marks World Mental Health Day. It provides an opportunity as a society to raise awareness of mental health issues and advocate against the social stigma that these unfortunately still come with.
This year’s theme, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is suicide and its prevention. Such a theme is highly appropriate for us here in Scotland as recent NHS figures highlight that the number of suicides has increased by 15 per cent within a year, despite an action plan set by the Scottish Government to reduce the rate of suicides by 20 per cent between 2017 and 2022.
It is estimated that the suicides among those aged 15 to 24 increased by 50 per cent between 2017 and 2018. This devastating and ongoing trend is evidence that not enough support is being given to young people struggling with mental health problems.
Mental health issues amongst younger generations are an epidemic that has already been labelled as one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. As an example, roughly three children in every class have a mental health problem.
Without effective early intervention these conditions can clearly have a significant impact on their life chances and in the worst cases can lead to suicide
A lot more needs to be done to tackle the frightening numbers of suicides in Scotland, which is why we need the Scottish Government to deliver a greater focus on prevention and early mental health intervention. This seeks to build up mental resilience and treat mental health problems from an early stage in life, reducing the burden on costly specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
Mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness and we must do much more as a society to ensure our children and young people are being given the support needed to ensure they grow up to be mentally fit adults. o