Just a little Note: We recognise that challenges are fluid and ever changing. Therefore we will review our services to ensure we continue to address the challenges young people with emotional and mental health needs are facing.
Is This New?
It is important to highlight that mental health difficulties have not just started to impact young people’s lives. People have been experiencing mental illness for decades. However, changes in reporting, campaigns to raise awareness, putting support services in place are just some of the ways that have helped to raise awareness of mental health and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
Within an ever-changing fluid society, challenges arise for young people which can have a significant impact on their mental health. One in ten young people aged 5-16 years experiences a diagnosable mental health disorder. That is about three children in every class (Reference 1).
The ‘How’ and ‘Whys’
There are a number of factors that can lead to a young person experiencing a mental health difficulty, and therefore it is not possible to list them all. But here are a few example to demonstrate the challenges young people face during a very important physical and emotional developmental period. Please note, these are not listed in any particular order:
Unstable and unpredictable relationships within the family, families separating, conflicts within families and young people increasingly taking the role of a carer. Young people can find it hard to make and/or maintain friendships. They experience feelings of loneliness and sadness as they find it a struggle to communicate and interact socially with their peers.
Impact of Social Media & Societal Pressures
There is an increased pressure to live this ‘perfect life style’ that is portrayed in the media. They may be surrounded by people who reinforce the pressure to work towards a lifestyle that will offer access to money and materialistic materials.
Friendships may become strained due to social media and young people struggling to make friendships and/or maintain them. ‘Unfriending’, ‘trolls’, the number of likes and followers is now a real worry for many young people. As the internet is available all the time, young people are experiencing ‘new pressures’ (i.e. selfie pressures and sexual exploitation), and bullying no longer stops, physical and mental, follows the young person home.
The reality is that young people are exposed to academic pressures, whether this is specific exam related or pressures to continually perform well at everything they do. Within an every changing academic system, the manifestation of stress and anxiety can result in young people experiencing emotional wellbeing difficulties. In addition, pressures can come from a wider systemic influence. These pressures can be held the school culture and also filtering down from the government. Schools are also faced with pressures to ‘perform’, they are assessed from agencies such as Ofsted and therefore this pressure can be felt by students.
1: Green, H., McGinnity, A., Meltzer, H., et al. (2005). Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain 2004. London: Palgrave.