A person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in any given year. In 2013 there were 6223 suicides in the UK for people aged 15 and older. From this, 78% were male and 22% female. With mental health day falling on the 10th October 2018, the key focus this year is young people and mental health in a changing world. The emotional wellbeing of children is as important as their physical health. A good mental wellbeing allows children and young people to develop the resilience to cope with what may come their way as they grow into healthy adults. The most common reason for Childline counselling sessions in 2017/18 was mental and emotional health.
During childhood and teenage years, we are continually changing and developing, all whilst coping with many different situations and unfamiliar challenged like exams, relationships and other pressures. Children and teenagers today face huge pressures beyond this, such as body image, social life, unstable living environments and demanding school work pressures.
Each circumstance is different, and even under the best circumstances, it can be hard to tell the difference between challenging behaviours and emotions that are common in child development and those that are a cause for concern. Many factors contribute to mental health problems including:
- Biological factors (genes or brain chemistry)
- Life experiences (trauma or abuse)
- Family history of mental health problems.
It is no secret that the use of social media and online technologies has grown in recent years. Whilst bringing many benefits, there are also added pressures of being connected all day and night. Half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14, but remain undetected or untreated. Depression is now the third leading disease among adolescents and suicide the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. Fortunately, there is growing knowledge of mental health in today’s society and the importance of helping young people deal with the pressures and building a resilience to cope with these challenges as they grow up.
Prevention begins with a better understanding of the illnesses and their early warning signs. Awareness can easily be increased in educational establishments like schools, colleges and universities. But awareness is nothing without suitable support on offer. Schools should be looking to implement programmes to support children, assisting parents with how to recognise a mental illness in their own child and encouraging them to seek help. Parents and teachers are a dominant part of a child’s life, and can help build life skills through children and teenage years to help cope with everyday challenges at school, home and socially. The government has promised more support in schools, bringing in new mental health support teams and offering help in measuring students’ health, including their mental wellbeing at the first ever global mental health summit, held today in London.
As of today, Prime Minister Teresa May has appointed a Minister of Suicide Prevention, Ms May said: “We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence and prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives.”
According to the World Health Organisation, “if we don’t act urgently, by 2030 depression will be the leading illness globally.” If you want to help, then you can take action by educating yourself about mental health and recognise the first signs of mental health issues. Whilst we recognise mental health today, the issues are all year round, and offering support to someone who is suffering is as simple as listening.