Children in Scotland said a dedicated ministerial-level post with a mental health remit would raise the profile of children and young people’s mental health and prioritise early intervention and prevention.
Chief executive Jackie Brock has written to the First Minister asking her to consider the proposal.
She said: “We believe the impact mental health difficulties have on children’s education, and the inadequate levels of child and adolescent mental health provision, have reached a critical point in Scotland.
“The next Scottish Government should reflect its understanding of this issue and the priority it deserves to be given by creating a new ministerial-level post specialising in mental health.
“This is a real opportunity to bolster recognition of the importance of good mental health throughout childhood, and to contribute towards a shift in societal views.
“We know that adolescence is the peak onset period for mental ill-health and many young people will carry these problems into adult life, with negative consequences in terms of educational achievements, employment and relationships.
“For these reasons we strongly believe that mental health must be regarded as being on a par with physical health.
“To achieve real change we urge more investment in prevention and early intervention approaches to help prevent the development of many mental health problems in children and young people, and the impact this can have on education, family life, and life chances.”
The call is made in Children in Scotland’s manifesto for the 2016-21 parliamentary term, published today.
Enquire, Children in Scotland’s advice service, reported an increase in calls last year from parents whose education was suffering because of a mental health condition.