This week it’s Children’s Mental Health Week. Like everybody else, children and young people have the right to the best mental health possible.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out a number of rights you have to good mental health.
We know the last two years have been especially hard, and we know that even before the pandemic lots of children and young people were struggling with their mental health. Lockdowns, school closures, isolation, and family stress have made things worse.
But you are entitled to support and treatment.
In December 2020, Gina Wilson, our Head of Strategy, wrote a blog about the lack of mental health support for children, before and during the pandemic. She’s revisited it for Children’s Mental Health Week.
In her blog, Gina says: “What’s really alarming is that many young people have said they can’t get help from until they are in severe crisis. They may be suffering from depression or anxiety but because they aren’t having a mental health emergency, they can’t access treatment. Many talk about the length of time – years, in some cases – they can go without getting any help and how profound an effect this has on them.”
But Gina goes on to say: “It doesn’t have to be like this. We must invest in community-based mental health treatment and support services that are accessible to children and young people at any point – not just when they are in crisis.”
Mental health has been a priority for our office since before the pandemic. Children and young people have told us it’s an area they want us to focus on. We’re working with some of our Young Advisers to look at the availability of counselling in Scottish schools.
Commissioner Bruce Adamson filmed a video on Monday to mark Children’s Mental Health Week. His message is: “Children and young people have the right to the best mental health possible. The UNCRC says you have the right to the best possible healthcare so you can stay healthy and that’s for both physical and mental health. That doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges with how you’re feeling but it does mean you should be supported.”
This Children’s Mental Health Week, remember that the best possible mental health is not just a nice thing to have. It’s your human right.