Three children in every classroom will have experienced a mental health problem by the time they’re 16, and thousands will struggle to get the help they need.

It’s got to change, and that’s what SAMH’s new campaign is all about. Around since 1923, SAMH is Scotland’s national mental health charity. We work in communities across Scotland, and this week we launched our biggest ever campaign, ‘Going To Be’.

The campaign will run for two years, but in its opening weeks, we’re drawing attention to the thousands of young people who are being turned away from getting help for their mental health. And we’re calling for schools-based counselling as one route to getting help.

Nearly 7,000 young people were turned away from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) in Scotland last year. We don’t know why, what happened to them, and what other services were offered, if any. The Scottish Government has committed to an audit of these “rejected referrals”, and we want to see this start quickly, report within 18 months and lead to firm action.

Mental health support for children and young people needs review, refocus and investment in early intervention services to help young people at the earliest opportunity. There’s much to do. But one action we want to see urgently is the introduction of counselling in Scotland’s secondary schools by 2020.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland all have strategies on counselling in secondary school. An evaluation of schools-based counselling in Wales showed that counselling was associated with significant reductions in psychological distress across each of the areas in which it was introduced. Why are Scotland’s children and young people missing out? Counselling is an important part of a whole school approach to mental health, and we must provide this service: soon.

Young people deserve better. With our new campaign, we hope the future is Going To Be brighter.

Visit the Going to Be website to find out more, watch our films and join the campaign.

Carolyn Lochhead, Public Affairs Manager, SAMH