Prevention must be priority for Scots’ mental health

Action on ‘fundamental causes’ of poor mental health including poverty & poor housing essential, says national health board

Monday 15th July 2019

A ‘whole system approach’ addressing issues such as poverty, discrimination, poor housing, and social isolation is needed to improve young people’s mental health, according to NHS Health Scotland.

One of Scotland’s national health boards established to help reduce health inequalities, NHS Health Scotland has welcomed the recommendations of a recent report calling for a ‘transformation’ of children’s services.

Earlier this month, the Children & Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce reported ‘wide-ranging reform’ was needed to help young Scots get the support they needed.

Following the taskforce’s report, the Scottish Government announced a new oversight body is to be established to implement the recommendations that have been made, while the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition has called for increased investment and a renewed push for early intervention.

NHS Health Scotland has praised recognition in the report of a need to prioritise preventative approaches to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Scotland has an ambition to be the best place to grow up. However, recent evidence tells us that there is significant scope for improvement in the mental health and wellbeing of Scotland’s children and young people,” says Dr Pauline Craig, head of population health at NHS Health Scotland.

These recommendations have the potential to transform the way young people receive support. By enabling access to the right help, at the right time and in the right place, it will help to make the right to health a reality for children and young people."

Acknowledging poor mental health is not distributed evenly across the population, the board says:

A preventative approach to this public health challenge requires action on the fundamental causes of poor mental health including poverty, discrimination, poor housing, social isolation and lack of employment prospects for young people and their families.

This will need partners from a range of sectors, including the public and third sector, to work together. We are, therefore, pleased to see the focus on a whole systems approach to children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.’

The national board has also voiced support for increased engagement with children and young people in decisions affecting policy and practice. ‘Only by listening to young people’s lived experiences and engaging them in the decision-making processes can we begin to achieve the goals of the recommendations,’ the board states.