William Eichler 02 July 2019

Majority of young people experience mental health issues, poll reveals

Three in five young people have experienced a mental health problem or are close to someone who has, according to a new survey.

A poll of over 12,000 young people aged between 11 and 19 has revealed the extent of what council chiefs recently described as a ‘children’s mental health crisis’.

Carried out by the mental health charity Mind, the survey also shows that one in seven (14%) young people say their mental health is currently poor or very poor.

The charity discovered that many children were unsure of where to go to get support.

Almost two in five (38%) of all pupils said they wouldn’t know where to go to access support within school and half (52%) said they wouldn’t feel confident approaching teachers or other school staff if they needed help.

Around one in five young people (21%) had accessed support for their mental health within school.

However, Mind found that of these, almost one in two (43%) said they didn’t find the support helpful and two in three (63%) said they weren’t involved in decisions made about that support.

Less than one in three pupils (28%) who had experienced a mental health problem had used mental health services outside of school.

‘We spoke to thousands of young people to try to better understand the scale of poor mental health across secondary schools in England and Wales,’ said Louise Clarkson, head of children and young people at Mind.

‘There were some really positive findings, with most pupils saying that, on the whole, they thought their schools believed good mental health was important and promoted wellbeing. But we also heard from many young people experiencing problems with their mental health.

‘Despite the high levels of poor mental health among young people, many are not accessing support and those that are aren’t always getting what they need.’

Ms. Clarkson emphasised that this was not the fault of schools.

‘We know that many are doing the best job they can with limited resources and staff need the right expertise and support from other parts of the system,’ she said.

‘The Prime Minister’s recent announcement about training for teachers is welcome but it’s only one part of the picture – school staff need to know that if they are starting conversations about mental health with a young person, there are services in place to refer them onto.

‘It’s time for a fresh approach to supporting young people and equipping them to look after their mental health.

‘With so many young people affected, and knowing that most mental health problems start in childhood, this is rapidly becoming one of the major challenges our society faces.’

The latest figures published by the Local Government Association (LGA) show there were 205,720 cases where a child was identified as having a mental health issue in 2017/18, compared with 133,600 in 2014/15.

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