New Report: Youth Struggling with Mental Health, Isolation
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 12, 2023
Young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 in the UK are currently grappling with feelings of isolation, loneliness, and a lack of support when it comes to their mental health. These disconcerting findings emerged from a comprehensive research report conducted by the esteemed Mental Health Foundation. The study, supported by the Cochrane Mental Disorders Group at York University, offers valuable insights into the impact of societal efforts to enhance mental health and aims to be repeated every three years.
The State of a Generation
The report, aptly titled “State of a Generation,” focuses on key areas where a prevention approach to mental health issues could prove effective. To gather the data, the researchers conducted an online survey in August 2019, with 2,522 young individuals participating. The survey results highlight the following concerning trends:
- Only 54% of young adults feel comfortable discussing their emotions with others.
- Approximately a quarter of young people frequently experience a lack of companionship (25%), feelings of exclusion (25%), or isolation (27%).
- Nearly 1 in 7 young individuals (14%) do not have a trusted adult to turn to for advice and support when facing problems.
- Only 55% of young people are confident in knowing where to seek help for their mental health concerns, while a mere 34% believe they would receive the assistance they need.
- More than 1 in 5 young adults (21%) attribute their negative mental health to their living environment.
Addressing the Challenge
Expressing his concern, Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, emphasizes the alarming situation revealed by the research. Many young people are suffering in silence, unable to share their emotional struggles. Stigma surrounding mental health and the lack of available channels for communication pose significant obstacles. Addressing these issues is crucial to prevent young people from falling into the depths of despair.
Jodie Beck, a member of the Foundation’s Youth Advisory Panel and an advisor for the report, adds a personal perspective. Having experienced mental health challenges during her teenage years, she was not afforded the opportunity to utilize her first-hand experience to effect change within the available mental health support services. Beck’s insight highlights the correlation between deteriorating mental health and the decline of community infrastructure, such as closed-down community centers and neglected green spaces. She stresses the importance of taking action to enhance the lives of young individuals.
Based on these findings, the report recommends several crucial actions to address the mental health crisis among young people:
- Provide resources and support to parents and caregivers, including parenting programs, education, employment opportunities, and housing resources, to ensure they can consistently support their children.
- Equip children with the necessary skills to understand, discuss, and manage challenging emotions as part of their education.
- Integrate mental health support into the curriculum, as well as youth work and other services catering to young people, emphasizing accessibility and acceptability based on the perspectives of young individuals.
- Empower community leaders to bridge the gap between local government and communities, ensuring people have a say in determining the necessary support for good mental health.
It is essential to address these recommendations urgently and create an environment in which young people feel connected, empowered to discuss their problems openly, and confident in finding reliable help. By taking these steps, we can make significant strides in improving the mental well-being of the younger generation.
To read the full report, “State of a Generation: Preventing mental health problems in children and young people,” please click here.
Notes to Editors:
The report, titled “State of a Generation: Preventing mental health problems in children and young people,” marks the Mental Health Foundation’s 70th anniversary. This report is the first in a series of three, each focusing on different stages of life and the factors that influence mental health during these periods. Moving forward, the researchers plan to conduct the survey every three years to monitor the evolving influences on young people’s mental health. The subsequent reports will explore mental health in adults (autumn 2020) and individuals aged 55 and over (autumn 2021).
The Mental Health Foundation has partnered with Cochrane Common Mental Disorders to support this report. This collaboration ensures that the Foundation poses the right research questions, employs appropriate methodologies, and disseminates relevant evidence to those who need it in usable formats.
Cochrane Common Mental Disorders operates as part of Cochrane, an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing worldwide access to up-to-date and accurate information about healthcare effects.
All figures, unless stated otherwise, are based on a YouGov Plc survey. The survey involved 2,522 UK adults aged 16 to 25 and was conducted online between August 14th and August 29th, 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the entire UK population within this age group.
All calculations have been conducted by the Mental Health Foundation.