Participating in Youth Action, and starting the Your Voice, Your Vote ballot, highlighted issues for young people that are quite often overlooked. My series, throughout these two months, focuses on the main issues for young people in North East Lincolnshire, ways you can help and start these conversations with your children or even your grandchildren.
With 1 out of 4 people experiencing mental health issues themselves or knowing someone who is affected, it is apparent that one individual could likely be a child or a young person. Mental health does not discriminate on age, race, or gender orientation, etc; it can affect anyone at any time in their life or someone they know. This can be in any form – obvious to the individual or not.
With statistics from centreformentalhealth.org, it is most obvious that amongst young people suffer from mental health which is most obvious during the ages of 16 to 24 years, most individuals sadly experience depression and anxiety.
Before the comparison of the 1960s onwards starts, statistically, young people were 5% more likely to experience these mental health issues than in 1995 – and it could sadly be higher due to COVID where it’s hidden and the reliance on face-to-face support is moved online. Teenagers’ situations are never the same and experience change over time. For example, there are a few negative ones that may exert worry and pressure on young people. This was clear as, during the 1960s, a young person could start paid employment from the age of 16 whereas now they are in full-time education up until the age of 18 – an extension of adolescent years. Additionally, there are increasing rates of parental divorce, twice likelier now than in the mid-1970s to 80s with the average rate of divorce being around 30%.
An individual’s mental health not only affects them mentally but can also limit their participation in everyday life – it can prevent them from attending school, seeing their friends and family, or enjoying their prior hobbies. Young people’s education is greatly affected with them more likely being excluded from school due to their mental health or vice versa with exclusions being the ignition of an individual’s mental health issues – highlighted in a 2017 study by Ford Et Al made up of questionnaires.
Although we have touched on why young people experience mental health, it is important to know the solutions to prevent and help anyone we can. A way of looking at this is the view that people often preach about positive mental health but sometimes avoid conversations that are the reality for those with mental illnesses such as breakdowns. Talking is not for everyone but it’s the most notable solution and this can be done in several ways. Firstly, it doesn’t have to be a formal conversation, over text might be better. It could be a phone call even if the other trusted person is in the same house. It could be a letter or a post-it note on the fridge asking someone how they’re doing. It might just be personal too, for example, some people write out all their thoughts on a piece of paper and burn it.
If you would prefer you, your child, or your relative to seek professional help, there’s a multitude of options out there. This might be going to your local GP and requesting a therapist, it might be contacting your local mental health charity such as the Samaritans or Young Minds Matter that talk any time they can. If that’s not the option for you or someone you know, there are many trusted online platforms such as TogetherAll which connects young people anonymously so they can interact through chat topics that range from anything from school or how to cope with everyday stress. Other ones such as Kooth connects users to other people in similar situations sharing creative pieces or the chance to talk to a Kooth trained therapist – it’s important that whatever option you or your relative chooses, they know they’re valid and loved, regardless of their mental health and ways they can seek help when they’re ready to.
Article by Young Reporter Amber.
First appeared in the Grimsby Telegraph 17th August 2021