Did you know in 2020 Mind reported that 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 young people experience a mental health problem?

What is Mental Health?

Mental health refers to the way we think, feel and act. Everybody has mental health, the same way everybody has physical health, and we need to look after it.

Lots of people, from all backgrounds and of all ages, can experience a mental health problem, so being able to talk about it is important.

There're many things that can negatively impact mental wellbeing for young people and adults, such as a challenging time at work or at school.

If you go through a period of poor mental health, you might find that the ways you're frequently thinking, feeling or reacting can become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with.

Supporting Mental Health in Scouts

Mental health can sometimes feel like a complex and intimidating subject.

However, anyone can experience a mental health problem, so being able to talk about it's important to us all - and you don’t need to be an expert on mental health to start a conversation.

Scouts can play an important role in supporting mental health and wellbeing, through activities and badges, friendship, getting outdoors, and talking about and developing understanding around mental health. Often, small everyday actions can make the biggest difference.

Research by Dibben, Playford & Mitchell showed that young people who are involved in Scouts or Guides have better mental health in later life.

Spotting the Signs and Symptoms

If you're concerned about an individual's wellbeing, try to stay calm and have a conversation with them. Where appropriate you might have a conversation with the young person’s parent or carer.

The signs and symptoms can be:

  • Tearful or frequently upset
  • Avoiding friends or social events
  • Not enjoying activities they enjoyed before
  • Unable to carry out normal tasks or handle daily stresses
  • Restless
  • Changing their eating habits
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Angry for prolonged periods of time
  • Having paranoid thoughts
  • Self-harming
  • Talking about suicide

How to Start a Conversation

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families provide advice and guidance for adults working with young people and a helpful way of remembering how to promote mental health.

They provide an easy model to remember how to approach mental wellbeing called CARE (meaning Curious, Approachable, Refer and Empathy).


Curiosity is non-threatening and opens up conversations, as you show an interest in hearing that person’s perspective.

Over time you'll begin to know both your young people and the adults you volunteer with very well. You may notice a sudden change in behaviour, attitude or mood - remember, no change is too small. The signs and symptoms listed above may help you to identify changes.

Be curious about this and ask them if they want to talk. You don’t need to be a mental health expert to listen and you don’t need to know all the answers. If you need to ask questions, keep them open-ended.


Create a safe space for them to open up. This should be somewhere they feel comfortable and you're unlikely to be distracted.

When you're discussing mental wellbeing with a young person, remember to remain within the guidelines of the Yellow Card.


You may begin a discussion with a young person or adult volunteer and realise you don't have all the answers. Be honest about not knowing and agree how you'll follow up.

Encourage the young person or adult volunteer to speak to the people they live with, or to a GP, about how they're feeling.

You might also signpost them to support organisations or charities, either nationally or in your local area.

In line with the Scout’s safeguarding procedures, if you're concerned that a young person is at risk of harm from themselves (or others) you'll need to pass this information on.


Let them know that this time is for them to talk, and you're there for them. Try not to offer solutions right away and ask what they think could help.

Be non-judgmental and listen to the young person or adult.

Try to think of being alongside the person on their journey and providing a space for them to reflect rather than trying to rescue them.

More Support

Below are details on services and organisations that offer help and support directly to people with mental health problems.

The Samaritans

The Samaritans offer emotional support 24 hours a day - in full confidence.
Call 116 123 - it's FREE.
Or email jo@samaritans.org.uk

Shout 85258

For free, confidential support, 24/7, text SHOUT to 85258.
If you are struggling to cope and need to talk, trained Shout volunteers are available day or night.
Shout can help with urgent issues such as:

  • Abuse
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Bullying
  • Depression or sadness
  • Loneliness or isolation
  • Panic attacks
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts
Find out more at https://giveusashout.org/get-help/

Anxiety UK

Anxiety UK was established in 1970 and is run by and for those with anxiety, offering an extensive range of support services designed to help support those affected by anxiety disorders, anxiety and anxiety-based depression.

Services available include:
Helpline services - 03444 775 774, open from 9:30am to 17:30pm Mon to Friday, along with a text service 07537 416905 and ‘Ask Anxia’ chatbot service, available 24/7 for all anxiety queries at anxietyuk.org.uk. See Helpline services for more information.

Anxiety UK also offer fast access to a range of psychological therapy services, including counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), clinical hypnotherapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, with appointments available in person, online and by telephone.
See Therapy services for more information.

Rethink Mental Illness

You can call the Rethink advice and information line Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm for practical advice on:

  • different types of therapy and medication
  • benefits, debt, money issues
  • police, courts, prison
  • your rights under the Mental Health Act.
Call Rethink on 0300 5000 927 (calls are charged at your local rate).

CALM Helpline and Webchat

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide. You can talk to CALM about anything. Call the CALM helpline on 0800 58 58 58 or use their webchat here. The helpline and webchat are both open 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year.

Tell someone you can trust

You may find it helpful to talk to your partner, a relative or a friend about your problems. They may be concerned about you and welcome the opportunity to hear what you have to say. If this is not possible, you may prefer to talk to someone else you can trust, like a faith leader or a tutor.

Talk to your GP

Your GP may be the first person you talk to about your mental health problems. If you have a good relationship with your doctor, you may find it helpful just to know there is someone you can talk to about the feelings you are having. Your GP may refer you to specialist services if he/she feels they will help you. You can find information about talking to your GP about your mental health in this guide.

If you are unhappy with your own doctor, you can ask to see another doctor at the same practice or make an appointment with a different practice in your area. If you are unsure where to find other doctor’s surgeries, look in your local Yellow Pages or try the NHS Choices website.

5 ways to wellbeing!

Improving your mental health when you're at work can feel like a challenge, especially if you work in a busy or stressful environment. But the 5 ways to wellbeing offer some simple steps which you can do every single day.

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