Children and young people's mental health indicators

A set of national mental health indicators for children and young people in Scotland was commissioned by the Scottish Government and finalised in 2011. Development took into account the views of children and young people (through a literature review and a consultation with vulnerable children). This set complements the mental health indicator set for adults.

The indicators cover both mental wellbeing and mental health problems.

They are grouped under two types of constructs (categories)

  1. mental health status — mental wellbeing and mental health problems
  2. contextual factors — the risk factors, protective factors and the consequences of mental health (within five domains: individual, family, learning environment, community and structural).

The Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) was created during the development of the adult indicator set. The scale is used to assess the overall mental wellbeing of a population and is suitable for teenagers (amongst those aged 13 years and over).

Using the children and young people's mental health indicators

The indicator set can be used to monitor the state of mental health and the risk and protective factors for mental health of children and young people (aged from pre-birth to 17 years, at a national and local level) and inequalities in these. They can help inform decision-making about priorities for action and resource allocation.

They can be used to

  • create national and local reports on population mental health
  • inform strategy, interventions and strategic planning
  • identify contributions to mental health improvement
  • create wider awareness of the determinants of wellbeing
  • strengthen the link between the determinants of mental health and interventions
  • inform the development of other indicators for impact assessment.

Details of the full indicator set, recommendations, the background (evidence base), objectives and process are available for download.

National reporting on the children and young people mental health indicators

Data was analysed for the children and young people's indicators to create a systematic assessment of mental health and associated contextual factors in 2013. The full report, briefing tables, charts and technical report are available on the ScotPHO site.

It shows that in 2013 the mental health of children and young people in Scotland (over the previous decade or so) had improved or remained broadly stable. There were good signs of improvement across the contextual domains. However, it highlighted clear inequalities across a range of mental health outcome and contextual indicators, especially for Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) (external site) and age. Inequalities by gender and urban-rural classification are also identified.

We no longer produce bespoke reports on the children and young people indicator set but many of the indicators are reported on in the ScotPHO profiles (external site).

Local availability of data for the children and young people mental health indicators

The indicators can be reported at a local level if data is available. A briefing paper provides details on availability of children and young people’s mental health indicator data for the main sub-national geographies in 2013. It is also available on the ScotPHO site within Scotland's Mental Health: Children and Young People 2013 (external site).

Launch of the children and young people's mental health indicators

The children and young people's mental health indicator set for Scotland was launched on 25 November 2011. Speakers at the event included

  • Tam Baillie (Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People)
  • Jane Parkinson (NHS Health Scotland)
  • Geoff Huggins (Scottish Government)
  • Boyd McAdam (Scottish Government)
  • Derrick Bruce (Education Scotland)
  • Sir Harry Burns (Scottish Government). 

The speakers noted the links between the mental health indicators and key policy such as Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) (external site), the Early Years Framework (external site) and Curriculum for Excellence (external site) as well as the assets based model.

The event was recorded and available as a YouTube playlist.

Presentation slides, transcripts and a report on the event including feedback from delegate discussions are also available.

You can contact us about our children and young people's mental health indicator work.