New research shows three quarters of young people don't know where to access mental health support

11 July 2016

Scottish Youth Parliament Press Office

 Our generation’s epidemic: Youth Parliament releases largest research report of its kind on young people’s mental health.

The Scottish Youth Parliament’s (SYP) has released one of the largest research reports specifically looking at young people’s mental health in Scotland, titled Our generation’s epidemic. The research comprises of 1,483 responses from young people aged 12 to 25, and captures their experience and awareness of mental health services and information. The report has found that 74% of young people surveyed did not know what mental health information, support, and services are available in their local areas.

Our generation’s epidemic was completed as part of SYP’s national campaign Speak Your Mind. Speak Your Mind is focused on raising awareness of mental health, empowering young people to talk positively about mental health, and calling for accessible, high quality mental health services and information for all of Scotland’s young people.

Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, Terri Smith MSYP said:

“The state of young people’s mental health in Scotland is at a crisis level. The Scottish Youth Parliament believes that the experiences and voices of young people should be listened to in order to create solutions to the problems affecting their lives, and that is why this research is vitally important.

Our generation’s epidemic captures that voice and lays out young people’s vision for the improvement of mental health services and information. At the moment we are failing our young people, and those experiencing mental health problems are being made to wait months and sometimes years for help. Many young people are being told that their mental health problems are a phase that they will grow out of, and just generally not being taken seriously.

“During the Scottish Parliament election campaign, most parties declared that mental health would be a priority on their agenda. We want to ensure that tackling this epidemic continues to be a priority, and that young people’s voices contribute to the solutions. Our young people deserve the best, and that should start with how we treat and value their mental health.”


Key Findings - Our generation’s epidemic found that, of the young people who took part in the research:


  1. 74% do not know what mental health information, support and services are available in their local area.
  2. Young people aged between 18 and 26 years old are less likely to find information young person-friendly than those aged between 12 and 17.
  3. Young people feel most comfortable talking to a GP or other medical professional, and someone they are close to, about their mental health.
  4. Young people feel that there is a range of barriers to talking openly about mental health, including embarrassment, fear of being judged, and a lack of understanding about mental health. 
  5. One in five young people do not know where to go for advice and support for a mental health problem.
  6. 27% of young people do not feel supported to talk about mental health in their school, college, university, or workplace.
  7. 18% of young people who consider themselves to have experienced a mental health problem have not accessed mental health services.
  8. Young people feel that young person-specific mental health services as particularly positive examples of mental health services.
  9. Respondents feel there are a number of issues with mental health services, including accessibility, lack of confidentiality, not being taken seriously due to age, and non-person-centred treatment.
  10. Young people feel that it is important to take a human rights-based approach to mental health, and that young people should be educated about their rights when accessing mental health support.


Notes to editor

  1. For all media enquiries and to arrange an interview with SYP Chair Terri Smith MSYP, contact Anna Dickens, Communications Officer, 07729 487627/ 0131 557 0452
  2. The Scottish Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people.
  3. Find the full report here: Our generation’s epidemic.
  4. Find out more about the Speak Your Mind campaign.