Mairi Gougeon MSP has urged young people to keep on speaking out to help stamp out the stigma of mental health.
The Angus North and Mearns MSP spoke out at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week as See Me Scotland launched a national survey of young people’s experiences of the illness.
The survey comes after worrying new statistics released by Glasgow University, based on a survey of 3,508 people aged 18-34, showed that one in nine young adults in Scotland have attempted suicide and one in six have reported self-harming.
Mrs Gougeon also raised young people’s mental health concerns at the Scottish Parliament after she was contacted by pupils at Stonehaven’s Mackie Academy asking how schools can be better supported to deal with it.
She questioned Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt over greater support in schools – such as on-site counsellors and community psychiatric nurses – on behalf of the Mackie students.
And she said: “These statistics over suicide attempts and self-harming among young adults are extremely alarming. We must do all we can to change this.
“There are numerous pressures on young people as they grow up through school, college or university, home, in trying to find work and coping with stressful jobs.
“There can also be some extremely damaging life-changing events that trigger depression and mental health episodes and long-term illness.
“The one thing we MUST do is talk about it. We must talk openly about stress, mental health, suicidal thoughts and self-harming.
“No-one should ever feel ashamed to open up. Mental health should not be a taboo subject and we need to work to stamp out any stigma attached to it.
“That’s why I was heartened by the correspondence I received from Mackie Academy pupils asking me to raise their mental health concerns in the Scottish Parliament.
“Every young person should feel able open up about issues and know that people are prepared to listen to them when they do.
“That’s why campaigns such as the one being launched by See Me Scotland are so important.
“They are encouraging as many young people as possible to speak out about mental health. If they can do that, then it can stamp out the stigma and help young people realise they are not alone.”
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.”
Any young person, aged 8 to 26, wishing to take part in anonymous the See Me Scotland survey can do so by visiting: https://www.seemescotland.org/news-and-blogs/what-do-you-want-to-talk-about/