Making tiny changes: your mental health

Growing up is a whole big bag of stress, no doubt about it. How do you manage when life becomes overwhelming? Do you wish you had more mental health support? Well, change is coming with calls for improved mental health education.

Hard news coming your way: Scotland is currently going through a mental health crisis, particularly amongst young people. Let’s take a moment to think about it: how much do you really know about mental health?


Everyone has mental health, but one in four people can experience mental ill health. That means someone in your class, your teacher, your best friend, or even you reading this, will have direct knowledge of mental illness or experience it firsthand in their lifetime.

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health – just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. In the fast paced, sometimes pressured, world we live in our mental health can take a toll. From social media to striving for success, there are times when you might feel overwhelmed and in need of support.


“A lot of young people don’t actually understand what mental health is. Some do, some really don’t, some refer to it as a virus that you can catch,” explains Toni Giugliano, policy and public affairs manager for the Mental Health Foundation.

“We’ve had responses including: ‘I hope I never catch mental health,’ because the reality is that mental health is still seen as severe, acute, and irrecoverable.”

Research from the Mental Health Foundation, a charity working to promote and prevent mental ill health, reveals the pressures that a young person can face.

Approximately 60 per cent of young people feel stressed about succeeding in life and half of young Scots feel under pressure because of body image, especially men. Improved understanding of mental health and wellbeing could encourage an open discussion in the classroom and beyond.


The Mental Health Foundation is working in tandem with the Scottish Government to get mental health education on the curriculum. PSE classes are traditionally focused on healthy physical relationships and healthy eating, but it’s time we started talking about mental health, too

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government promised to reduce suicide in Scotland by 20 per cent for 2022. The drive comes after figures paint an upsetting image of suicide in Scotland, especially amongst young people.

With improved education in the classroom suicides might decrease and you, as a young person, will know where to go when you feel overwhelmed.

“Our message is to talk about your feelings. Men complete suicide at a higher level than women, so talking about your feelings is important. Don’t be afraid to reach out to anybody. If you don’t want to reach out to people you know then go to Samaritans, Breathing Space, and have an anonymous chat with someone about how you feel,” encourages Toni.

“The last thing you want to do is bottle it up and not talk about it. Talking about it really is the most powerful thing that you can do.

“The stigma of mental health is reducing and more people are aware that we’re all human, we’re not robots, we have difficult lives and the best way to get rid of our anxieties and our stresses is to discuss those feelings and those problems in life and find a solution. There is always a way out; there is always an alternative.”


Outside of the classroom, there is an exciting initiative that you can get involved with to shine a (stage) light on mental health. MHF Live is a new fundraiser looking for people to gather their mates and wider community to ‘raise awareness, raise money, and raise the roof’ for mental health.

In your house, at school, in the community centre, at work – literally the location of your choosing can be your stage for MHF Live. Brought to you from the Mental Health Foundation, MHF Live is incorporating music and mental health to squash the stigma and start discussions.

“We all know that music and mental health go hand in hand, a lot of people are writing about mental health in their music and there is a gap to be bridged in terms of actually talking about it openly, and being comfortable with that, and not feeling any shame attached,” explains MHF Live curator, Hannah Currie. “We can definitely use music as a way to get that conversation going.”

Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer, Scott Hutchison was continually open about his battles with depression before his death earlier this year. Through his music he helped improve understanding of mental ill health. Big names have now rallied behind MHF Live, with Rita Ora, The XCERTS, Years & Years, and many more getting involved. This is one event that looks to break the mould of mental health awareness.

Hannah explains: “The idea behind MHF Live is to create a UK wide movement of musicians and music fans all working towards one goal – good mental health for all. Looking at the enthusiasm already, people do want to raise awareness and raise money for mental health, but there hasn’t been a structure in place to help them do that – until now.”

Are you itching to get your musical instruments out, are you a spoken word connoisseur, do you have a passion for music, or are just interested in learning more and spreading knowledge about mental health? Then MHF Live is for you: help make tiny changes to improve Scotland’s mental health.


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