Mental ill-health affects 1 in every 10 children and young people, and 70% do not get the appropriate interventions.
Mental health conditions are invisible conditions and are affecting young people as young as 10 years old. In 2015 there was a 70% increase in suicides. These statistics are alarmingly high.
I have suffered with mental ill-health since the age of 16, and there was hardly any support. I was given anti-depressants by my doctor and basically told to get on with it. I felt I couldn’t go to my parents, not because of how they would react, but because I felt I would disappoint them by saying I am not coping; and this seems to be the case for many young people who feel they can’t talk to anyone.
As a young person, having a mental health condition is almost like admitting we’re failing, we’re not good enough, why is everyone else coping but me?
Comments like ‘you’re too young to know what stress is’ don’t help because the reality is, we’re not. Look at the pressure schools and the media place on us. You have no idea on what’s going on behind closed doors, that young person who you said was too young to know what stress is might be the main wage earner for a family or the primary carer for a disabled parent or child.
Mental ill-health is on the rise and we need to start recognising it and raising awareness. Sometimes the signs are just not there, or they are ignored or with young people are dismissed as part of growing up. But then looking at the great actor Robin Williams, for example, who knew he was suffering?
As a union we need to take a firm hand with mental health and de-stigmatise it. We are taking steps in the right direction in having mental health reps in the workplace, and having them trained, but we need to do more.
We need to look at the factors that can cause or impact on mental health: such as stress at work, studying, home life and look at what help we can put in place. We need to work with charities and organisations such as MIND and advertise where people can get help.
Young people are living in a world where there is so much uncertainty, for example job insecurity. We need to show our support to everyone. Even a small gesture such as holding the door open for someone, or smiling as you walk past can lighten someone’s mood and make them feel better about themselves, or even just a simple “how are you today?” or “are you okay?” can open up a conversation about what is bothering someone.