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Concerns over Youth Mental Health


Wednesday, January 7th, 2009 Concerns over Youth Mental Health

It has been suggested that symptoms of depression could be a major health issue for a large number of teenagers according to the Children’s Society back in April 08.

Moreover it has been stated that in excess of a quarter of 14-16 year old youngsters, that were questioned, felt frequently depressed.According to a leading child psychiatrist, more support, and resources, for parents was essential to tackle the problem. However, with reference to a BBC article (05 01 09), The Prince’s Trust is very concerned that specifically young unemployed adults need more help to deal with mental health problems. More worrying was the fact that one in ten youngsters that were surveyed did not agree with the philosophy that “life was really worth living”. Those not employed or educated were less likely to be happy.

Notwithstanding as far back as 2007, UNICEF rated the UK bottom of a league of industrialised countries for child well-being, saying our children were under-educated, unhappy and unhealthy compared with other European countries. In a survey carried out by BBC’s Newsround a total of 27% of those questioned agreed with the statement: “I often feel depressed”. In the Newsround survey many children said they felt under pressure from school, their classmates, and family expectations.

In addition, Paul Brow, of the Prince’s Trust, said the study showed there were thousands of young people who “desperately” needed support. He added: “Often young people who feel they have reached rock bottom don’t know where to turn for help.” Of those questioned, 29% said they are less happy now than they were as a child and one in five said they felt like crying “often” or “always”. Furthermore nearly 50% also stated that they felt stressed on a regular basis.

Notably and understandably, feelings of negativity among those who took part in the survey were higher among those not in work, education or training, suggesting little to aspire to. Crucially, the young people who had left school but did not have a job or a place on a training course were twice as likely to feel that their life had no purpose. With reference to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the key to happiness are more specifically, relationships with family and friends, although health, money and work were also important.

Almost half (47%) said they were regularly stressed.

Young people tell us that family is key to their happiness, yet too often we find they don’t have this crucial support says Martina Milburn, of The Prince’s Trust. The feelings of negativity among those who took part in the survey were higher among those not in work, education or training. Young people who had left school but did not have a job or a place on a training course were twice as likely to feel that their life had no purpose.

Key to levels of happiness, were relationships with family and friends, although health, money and work were also important. The Prince’s Trust says it plans to train all its key staff to recognise mental health issues in what it calls an increasingly vulnerable generation. Chief executive Martina Milburn said: “Young people tell us that family is key to their happiness, yet too often we find they don’t have this crucial support.

“At the Prince’s Trust we help vulnerable young people, steering them away from false support systems such as drugs, alcohol and dangerous gangs and providing them with a sense of purpose again.

Professor Stephen Scott, from the Institute of Psychiatry argues, “Support for parents is crucial - schooling has a key part to play, and providing the effective treatments now available for children with mental health problems takes time, skill and resources.” Moreover, Marjorie Wallace, the chief executive of Sane, said: “We know that one in ten young people have a mental disorder of some kind and it is concerning that over a quarter of young people in this survey say they often feel depressed.

“It is vital that all children and young people with mental health problems are identified and treated from the earliest stage.”

The head of public policy at the Action for Children charity, Rob Hendry indicated that the report highlighted “serious issues” which needed to be addressed. In addition he added “children must be given the chance to speak out, be heard and participate in setting the political agenda about issues affecting their lives, if we are to build stronger, safer and more inclusive communities.”

In response to to the recent reports a spokesperson for the Department for Children, Schools and Families has said, “The government wants to make this the best country in the world to grow up and the Children’s Plan sets out how we will do this with more support for families, world class schools, and exciting things for young people to do outside school, and more places for children to play.

“In a survey of 110,000 pupils last year 93% of children said that they felt happy about life.

“But we know childhood isn’t good for every child and we will continue to focus on the problems that exist for some.”

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