Young people are being encouraged to join the biggest conversation Scotland has ever had on mental health stigma and discrimination.
As part of the Year of Young People 2018, the Scottish Government and See Me, the national programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination, are working alongside young people to create a new campaign for eight to 26 year olds.
Young people are being surveyed to share their views on the mental health issues they face, including if they are able to talk about their feelings and if they could help someone who was struggling. See Me volunteer and university student Rebecca Johnson, 22, from Glasgow, first started experiencing anxiety and panic attacks when she was at school, after developing an intense fear of change. However, when she tried to speak about what she was going through she found people didn’t understand.
Rebecca said: “People didn’t understand why I stopped going out or why I wasn’t the same. They just put it down to me being a bad friend. Even when I tried to explain they didn’t understand. From my experience, I don’t think young people are taken seriously when it comes to mental health.
“I was 16 when I first reached out for help and the reaction I got from the doctor was awful. I was told I was just stuck in a routine and playing everything up in my head. She told me I shouldn’t book another doctor’s appointment, just changing my routine and exercising more would fix it.
“The whole thing made dealing with life more difficult than it needed to be. But what was positive was that I decided if the help wasn’t there then I could be that help. So I am now studding psychology as I want to be a child psychologist.”
Speaking during Mental Health Awareness Week, Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt said the campaign will draw on the survey’s research.
Ms Watt said: “The Year of Young People 2018 is about giving young people a stronger voice and we have been told loudly and clearly that they want greater attention given to mental health and wellbeing. We have listened, and this will be the biggest conversation on mental health stigma and discrimination young people in Scotland have ever had.
“Young people can contribute in ways that suit them, especially those less likely to engage in person. More and more people are recognising the importance of caring for our mental health as we would our physical health, and we want everyone to have their say.”
Calum Irving, See Me director, added: “We want to create the biggest conversation young people in Scotland have ever had on mental health stigma and discrimination. Young people have already told us that it is okay not to be okay. We want to go further and find out why young people aren’t always okay.
“We want to understand what gets in the way of seeking help so we can end the stigma. Only then will all young people feel confident to speak about how they feel, without the fear of being judged or dismissed.”