Children and young people's Mental Health Indicators

A set of national Mental Health Indicators has been established for children and young people in Scotland. Find out about these indicators and the process undertaken.

Children and young people's Mental Health Indicator set

A set of national mental health indicators for children and young people in Scotland has been established. This complements the mental health indicator set for adults.

Launched at an event at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 25 November 2011, the children and young people´s mental health indicators cover both the state of mental health (mental wellbeing and mental health problems) and the associated contextual factors. They are structured under two constructs (categories):

  • high level constructs of mental health status – outcome measures
  • contextual constructs – covering the risk and protective factors and the consequences of mental health. These are structured within five domains: individual, family, learning environment, community and structural.

The indicators provide for the first time a means of assessing and monitoring the mental health of Scotland´s children and young people over time and enabled the development of the first national mental health profile for children and young people (aged from pre-birth to 17 years) resulting in a greater understanding of the current and changing picture of mental health within this population and the factors that influence it.

The final report for the children and young people´s mental health indicators and appendices describe in detail the background to the work, the process undertaken in creating the indicators, the rationale and achievements of the project including the indicators, their evidence-base, measures and associated data sources and recommendations. Overlaps with other Scottish policies and strategies for children and young people are also highlighted.

The final briefing paper (2011) provides a summary of the final output from the work.

Please note that since the launch of the indicators on 25th November 2011, there have been minor revisions to two of the measures for the Education Indicator. The first measure concerned had related to P3, P5, P7 and S2 pupils and reading and writing. The revised measure relates to just P3, P7 and S2 pupils and only reading. The second measure concerned related to P3, P7 and S2 pupils and mathematics. The revised measure relates to numeracy instead of mathematics. 

Event to launch the completed indicator set: 25 November 2011

The children and young people´s mental health indicator set for Scotland was launched on 25 November 2011. The programme for the event included presentations by:

View videos of the presentations. The report on the event to launch the completed indicator set describes the event and provides a summary of the feedback from delegate discussions.

Analysis of the data for the indicators

Available data for the indicators have now been analysed. The report Scotland's mental health: Children and young people 2013 (external link) provides the first systematic assessment of the mental health and associated contextual factors of the population of children and young people in Scotland. It presents single point-in-time estimates, using the latest available data, and also, where possible, an analysis of time trends over the last decade and equalities analysis by age, gender, the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) and urban-rural classification for mental health outcomes and age and gender for the associated contextual factors.

Additional resources (external link) to accompany the report are also available.

Sub-national availability of data for the children and young people’s mental health indicators

While having a national remit, the considerable interest in establishing local mental health indicators has been recognised. A paper has, therefore, been prepared to help local areas in making decisions. This paper Scotland’s mental health: Children and young people Sub-national data availability (external link) provides details on the main sub-national geographies at which the data for the national children and young people’s mental health indicators are availability.

Background and process

Scottish Government commitment to these indicators was restated in Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland: Policy and Action Plan 2009-2011 (external link). The work followed a similar course to that for the adult mental health indicator set. As well as taking into account current policy, data, the evidence-base, expert opinion and theory the views of children and young people (through a literature review and focus groups) also informed the development of the indicators.

The process involved:

  • reviewing the evidence, including that from children and young people, to determine a desirable set of indicators and a suitable framework
  • consulting on a draft framework via a large national event with stakeholders, an electronic consultation with key experts, organisations and networks and focus groups with specific groups of children and young people whose views on what impacts on their mental health were inadequately represented in the literature
  • reviewing and assessing the suitability of relevant administrative and survey data, currently collected nationally in Scotland, and of existing national indicators
  • aligning with wider policy initiatives, specifically identifying overlaps with existing indicators sets and outcome measures in current policy and initiatives
  • identifying robust indicators which can be reported on using existing data
  • identifying additional data needs for desirable data-less indicators and priorities for new data collection to fill these data gaps
  • exploring opportunities to collect the recommended new data, and working to influence existing data collection systems to fill these additional data needs
  • ensuring the sustainability of data for the indicator set.

A launch event was held in April 2008 in Glasgow. An initiation document (2008) and a document showing some possible frameworks (2008) for the indicators informed debates. The event report (2008) summarises the event and the feedback from delegate discussion around specific issues posed to delegates. This feedback led to revised thinking, laid out in Children and Young People´s Mental Health Indicators: Background Briefing May 2009.

A draft framework was consulted on (March – June 2010) and the findings informed the development of the final framework and indicator set. The consultation consisted of:

Summaries of the main consultation comments are provided in Briefing Update September 2010.

Commissioned supporting work

Contact

If you have comments on the indicators project or require further information please contact Jane Parkinson – jane.parkinson@nhs.net.

Updated 15 August 2016.

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