Positive thinking about young people’s mental health Reply

Eight colleges and 11 universities from across Scotland are participating in the Think Positive and Scottish Student Sport Healthy Body Healthy Mind Award 2016/17. ASH Scotland Policy and Research Officer, Mike Andrews, blogs about the award, and the work that ASH Scotland is doing around it.

To gain a Healthy Body Healthy Mind Award, students associations, sports unions, colleges and universities work together on projects that aim to bring about practical changes across the whole institute. These changes include improved sport and recreational programmes as a way to promote mental wellbeing, better signposting to student services and external organisations that can provide support for mental health and smoking cessation, while developing creative approaches to discourage people from taking up smoking.

With that in mind, ASH Scotland’s information service has produced a short new publication which looks at the key facts around this topic.

Research has shown strong links between smoking and mental health issues, especially among adolescents and young adults. For many young (and older) people, the argument is that smoking provides stress relief (and of course, studying is an often-challenging part of life). Usually, however, this is relief from nicotine withdrawal rather than relief from stress and all this does is sustain the cycle of addiction.

More than half of Scottish smokers, aged between 16-24, want to stop smoking. Therefore, it’s imperative to give them the best information to assist them in make positive lifestyle choices. With that in mind, here are some key facts surrounding this topic:

  • 66% of smokers start smoking regularly before they turn 18, and 99% of first tobacco use is by age 26. Therefore, this age group’s health and wellbeing is intrinsically linked to tobacco use, and the harm it causes
  • using cigarettes is strongly linked to the development of high depressive symptoms
  • heavy smoking is strongly linked to major depression, later in life, persistent mild depression, and bipolar disorders
  • stopping smoking is associated with improvements in depression, anxiety, stress and psychological quality of life compared with continuing to smoke

ASH Scotland, as part of its support for the award, is holding learning events for the institutions which have signed up. The training covers key areas such as: prevalence of smoking amongst young people; understanding nicotine dependence; links between smoking, mental health and physical activity.

On top of this, ASH Scotland’s information service is available to assist with enquiries you may have about this, or other, topic areas relating to tobacco. They can be reached on 0131 225 4725 or enquiries@ashscotland.org.uk


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