Young people lead the way in talking about mental health and it’s no surprise

Chris Martin
Chief Executive Officer

With the London Marathon just two days away, it has been a busy week for Heads Together. Sunday saw Prince Harry take part in a brave and dignified discussion with Bryony Gordon on how he coped with his mother’s death. Then on Tuesday, Lady Gaga spoke with the Duke of Cambridge about her struggles with anxiety and depression. Both ended with the same key message – everyone (even pop stars and princes) has mental health and we all have to engage with it.

At The Mix, we know the prevalence of mental health issues among young people has been rising for some time. 1 in 4 have missed school through anxiety and there has been a 14% rise in young people presenting at A&E for self-harm. Moreover, you only need to look at studies like the annual Girls Attitudes Survey from Girl Guiding to see that mental health issues top the list of young people’s own concerns.

The Duke’s conversation comes with the release of some fascinating new YouGov statistics that throw light on young people’s attitude to engaging with their mental health. They show that – arguably – this is one field in which young people are miles ahead of the older generation.

People aged 18-24 are much more likely than older groups to have had a recent conversation about mental health. 57% of 18-24-year-olds have had a conversation about mental health in the last three months, compared to 44% of 50-64-year-olds and 32% of over 65-year-olds.

Young people are less comfortable speaking to their family or to a GP, but eight out of ten (78%) of 18-24-year-olds spoke about mental health to a friend, demonstrating just how powerful peer support groups can be for young people.

Not surprisingly, young people are having these lifesaving conversations online. While half of young people (51%) find talking in person the most comfortable way to start a conversation with someone about their mental health, one in four (24%) would prefer a conversation either over the phone, via text, email or social media chat.

For a service like The Mix, it is heartening to know that reaching out through digital and supporting online communities that give young people a chance to engage with their peers is exactly the way to go when supporting young people’s mental health.

The hundreds of Heads Together runners who will line up to run the marathon this weekend want one thing – for everyone to be able to open up about mental health without fear or stigma. At The Mix we pledge to keep providing the digital, social and mobile channels young people need to help make this happen.

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Published on 21-Apr-2017