Young people and mental health

Each year on October 10 the World Health Organization (WHO) holds World Mental Health Day. And this year, the event’s focus is on young people and mental health in a changing world.

According to the WHO, half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14. Adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life that brings many changes, including changing schools, leaving home, starting university and having your first job. All of these things can be exciting. But in many young people they can cause stress and apprehension.

The UK’s Mental Health Foundation suggests about one in 10 children and young people are affected by mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and conduct disorder. But 70 per cent who experience a problem have not had the help they need at a sufficiently early age.

Is your child at risk?

According to the Mental Health Foundation, some children and young people are more likely to experience mental health problems than others, including those who have been affected by the following:

  • Long-term physical illness
  • A parent who’s had mental health problems or problems with alcohol
  • The death of someone close to them
  • Parents who have separated or divorced
  • Bullying or abuse
  • Discrimination
  • Long-standing educational difficulties
  • Being a carer for an adult relative

Depression is one of the most common types of mental health problems in young people, with teenagers more likely to experience it than younger children. Other mental health problems that affect children include anxiety, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders.

What can you do?

There are things that can help keep children and young people in good mental health. According to the Mental Health Foundation, the most important are:

  • Being in good physical health
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Playing indoors and outdoors
  • Being part of a family that gets along well most of the time
  • Going to a school that looks after the wellbeing of all its students
  • Taking part in local activities for young people

The charity also says one of the most important ways parents can help is to listen to their children and take their feelings seriously. Negative feelings in children and young people usually pass. But if your child is distressed for a long time, speak to their GP or a health visitor, who can refer your child to an appropriate health professional. If your child is having problems at school, on the other hand, speak to their teacher, the school nurse or a school counsellor.

There are also lots of organisations that can help with advice and support, including ChildLine, YoungMinds, Family Lives, Bernado’s and Kidscape.

If you’re worried about the health of any member of your family, you can always have an informal chat with your local Careway pharmacist. Your pharmacist can offer you advice and suggest you see your GP if they think it’s appropriate.

Find your nearest participating Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.