Teresa May announced recently her commitment to invest in helping schools to recognise Mental Health issues in their students, a long overdue focus, in my opinion. Having seen for the last five years the increase in mental health related issues for young people across the country, it is fair to say we are inadequately resourced to deal with this growing problem in our children and young people.
According to Gov.UK, over ½ mental health problems start by age 14 and 75% by age 18. Amongst teenagers, the rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the last 25 years.
It’s no longer just academic targets and physical health we have to meet the needs of. There is an ever-increasing sense of our youth’s emotional needs being neglected. Of course, raising awareness in schools, colleges and further education alone won’t change this situation. Our homes and support services need to be strengthened too.
‘In an average classroom, ten will have witnessed their parents separate, eight will have experienced severe physical violence, sexual abuse or neglect, one will have experienced the death of a parent and seven will have been bullied’. (MHFA Website).
Frightening statistics. Not just because they are terrible things to experience, but a number of children and young people this affects. How much more do we need to be aware of the impact of these issues on those pupils within these environments?
When you look at the symptoms of mental health difficulties; the most extreme being suicide attempts, it is shocking to know just how many of our young people struggle in this area. According to Young minds (www.youngminds.org.uk), 1 in 10 suicides in the UK is by those aged 15-24 and up to 160 young people under the age of 20 dies by suicide in England each year. Only 14% of suicides aged under 20 have been in contact with specialist mental health services.
They may be many of you reading this who are experiencing difficulties yourself or certainly know of someone who may show signs of;
- Substance Abuse
- Mood Disorder
- Suicidal Ideation
- Compulsive Hoarding
- Dissociative Disorder
So what should our response be?
If you are worried that you may be struggling with your own mental health, then get help. Speak to someone you trust and then seek professional advice from your GP, counsellor, mentor – anyone who can point you in the right direction to get support.
We need to be aware of the mental health issues prevalent in our society and how to meet those needs when we can. There are Mental Health First Aid courses available for people working with youth to train in, of which we are one of the providers in this country through the Mental Health England qualification.
Above all don’t be ashamed of how you feel. We all need to be aware of our mental health, as we are about our physical health. Sometimes it may be good, sometimes not so good and other times in desperate need of attention. Don’t ignore the signs – in yourself or those around you. Your mental health is as important if not more so than your physical health. Without it, we all struggle to achieve in life and to be the success we are striving to be.
If you would like to know more about our work check out our website – www.BraveHearteducation.co.uk.
Nicola Marshall – Founder, Trainer, Coach and Author.