Mental health and emotional issues often develop during adolescence. Half of young adults with mental health issues have symptoms by the age of 15, and nearly 75% by their late teens. For those aged 5-19 years, suicide is the second most common cause of death (ONS, 2015).
Social media peer pressure, bullying, family units breaking down and an increased number of children in the care system have all been suggested as contributing factors to the rise in mental health issues in younger people. Many of these issues affecting mental wellbeing are multiple and often remain undetected and untreated unless agencies such as schools take an active role (Partnership for Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools, 2015).
Despite the focus in recent years, some young people still do not get the support and care they need. This can happen because there is a stigma associated with mental ill health.
Young people may be reluctant to seek professional help or discuss mental health with friends and family because of their concerns about what others will think. Young people may lack the insight to realise that they need help or that help is available. Some mental health issues can cloud clear thinking and decision making. A young person experiencing such issues may not realise that they need help, that effective help is available, or may be so distressed that they are unable to think clearly about what they should do.
GPs, counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other professionals can all help young people experiencing mental health issues. However, just as with accidents and other medical emergencies, such assistance is not always immediately available when an issue first arises.
This is when key figures in the young person’s life, such as parents, teachers, tutors, carers, and youth workers, can offer aid and guide them towards the appropriate professional support. Although once seen as an optional extra, it has become clear that work in schools to promote mental health and wellbeing is central to overall effectiveness and should be prioritised.
Recent evidence from Public Health England confirms that:
Section 6.9.2 states that inspectors will be “looking to see that learners are knowledgeable about how to keep themselves healthy, both emotionally and physically”.