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Youths urged to get involved in mental health campaign

Young people are calling on their peers to get involved in promoting positive mental health in Renfrewshire.

Young people discussing issues young people face at the first-ever Youth Assembly in Renfrewshire

Renfrewshire’s Youth Commission are looking for more young people aged 14 and up to join the group and work collectively on changing perceptions and attitudes towards mental health.

The commission – supported by Renfrewshire Council’s youth services team – was set up in November last year after mental health was voted the top priority issue for young people at the first-ever Youth Assembly held in Renfrewshire.

Stress, relationships and social media have all been identified as areas that can affect mental health by young people, backed up by emerging results from the second Children and Young People Wellbeing survey conducted in Renfrewshire.

Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people, such as depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, often as a direct response to their circumstances.

UK statistics also show that a staggering 70 per cent of children and young people who experience mental health issues do not receive appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

Gemma Verlaque, 19, who is a member of the Youth Commission, said: “Good mental health is really important for young people, who may face issues at home, school or in the community.

“By joining our team you will be helping to shape what support is out in the community for young people.

“Our aim is to provide young people with the information they need to get help and support, especially during transition periods – such as leaving school.

“At the Youth Assembly, we discovered that young people don’t know what services are available to them. They also didn’t think there were enough activities and groups for those struggling with mental health issues.

“Family and friends can be strong role models for many young people and I’ve been inspired to get involved in the Youth Commission by the support I have from my family.”

The commission meets every fortnight on a Wednesday evening between 4 and 5.30pm during term time and are holding a special summer session from Monday 24 to Friday 28 July across various venues in Paisley.

Renfrewshire Council’s Convener of Education and Children’s Services Policy Board, Councillor Jim Paterson, said: “Emotional wellbeing of our children and young people is just, if not more, important as their physical health.

“Good mental health in children and young people ensures that they develop the resilience to cope with challenges and difficult situations that life can throw at you and supports them to grow into healthy adults.

“The Youth Commission are already making great progress in identifying barriers to good mental health in young people, but we know having more young people involved will ensure we get a broad perspective on the issues that they face and how we can support them in overcoming these challenges.

“Once the commission have collated their evidence, they will then make a set of recommendations to those who work with young people on how they should be supported and ensure all young people have the same support and experiences with services.

“Mental health is a big deal for young people and in Renfrewshire we will work hard to ensure we support our children and young people with everything they need to reach their full potential.”

To find out more, contact Renfrewshire Council’s youth services team on 0141 889 1110 or email youth@renfrewshire.gov.uk.