Children and young people mental health profiles

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The Children and Young People Mental Health Profiles will provide a means to assess and monitor mental health and its context of Scotland’s population under the age of 18.

What do the indicators cover?

The indicators cover both the state of mental health (mental wellbeing and mental health problems) and the contextual factors associated with it. This will support and promote consistent and sustainable national monitoring of the state of mental health and associated contextual factors for children and young people in Scotland.

What will they be used for?

The profiles will allow the Scottish Government to:

  • assess progress in improving population mental health
  • highlight key trends
  • identify inequalities
  • decide on future action. 

This indicator set will be used to create a mental health profile for Scotland which can be used to assess trends in the future. 

Given the cross-cutting nature of mental health, the indicator set will be relevant to policy areas and agendas beyond health improvement. For instance, information on children and young people’s mental wellbeing will be of interest to those engaged in the wider wellbeing agenda. Information on the associated contextual factors is relevant to those working on housing, environment, social inclusion, communities, crime and more. 

Links to other national policies

In the area of education, there is an overlap with the important themes and areas of assessment in Curriculum for Excellence (Scottish Executive, 2004) and The Early Years Framework (Scottish Government and Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, 2008).

There are also clear links to Getting It Right For Every Child (Scottish Executive, 2006) and Mental Health of Children: A Framework for Promotion, Prevention and Care (Scottish Executive, 2005).  The children and young people’s mental health indicators will be aligned with the outcome frameworks of relevant policies where feasible.

Local use

The data available for sub-national use of the indicator set is likely to be limited, but there are important duties placed on local agencies which could be informed by local use of the indicator set as far as possible. 

National use

The ‘Local Government in Scotland Act 2003’ (part 3) gives local authorities a power to advance wellbeing. The ‘Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act' 2003 places a duty on local authorities to provide services to promote wellbeing and social development for ‘people who have or have had a mental disorder’ (though this is mainly used for adults).

Where an indicator from the national set is consistent with the aims and objectives of a local initiative, then the scale or questions used for the national indicator could be used to collect data from a local sample, to evaluate and assess the mental health impact of the initiative. 

International use

On an international level, the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child calls on member countries to regularly publish data on children’s wellbeing (United Nations General Assembly, 1989).  This indicator set could potentially be used to contribute to this. In addition, the recent European Pact for Mental Health and Wellbeing (European Union, 2008) includes youth and education as one of the five areas for action. The Pact recognises the need for member states and regions to improve monitoring information and the evidence base, and to exchange knowledge.


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