Did you know that 3 children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health condition, and over 80’000 young people in the UK are currently severely depressed?
Last Friday, I sat in a cafe close to where to where the Bristol Freshers Week Fair was in full swing, and amidst the general bustle of excited 18/19 year olds, there was a young woman sitting next to me who appeared agitated. I was close to asking her if she was ok, when her friend arrived and embraced her tightly. After the standard small talk intro stuff, the young woman hurriedly talked about how anxious she was about being at uni, how terrible she felt and how she hoped that her medication would ‘kick in’ soon. My heart ached, but her friend seemed warm and supportive and I took comfort that their relationship was such that they could talk so openly about this.
According to a report by The Institute for Public Policy Research, ‘the number of students disclosing a mental illness when they arrive at university has risen almost fivefold in the past decade. Left untreated, mental ill health problems grow, with students more likely to drop out of university. There is also an increase in alcohol and drug misuse, self-harm and vulnerability to suicide’. But it’s not just university students who are struggling with their mental health, Data covering 60% of NHS mental health trusts in 2016 revealed staggering figures: about a quarter of a million children were receiving mental health care in England, 12,000 of those ages 5 and under.
This isn’t a blog post about discussion around the reasons or answers for these statistics. I’m not an expert. But I have been working in a school to help stimulate dialogue around mental health, and to highlight where and who young people can turn to if they need help. As Government cuts continue to stifle the work that local authorities can do, it’s important that as parents, carers, teachers or anyone who has an interest in supporting youth mental health, we equip ourselves with the necessary skills to recognise when a young person might need help.
In October and December this year, my good friend and colleague, Angela from Elemental Health, is running a two day training course in Bristol to deliver a qualification in Mental Health First Aid. At the end of this course, participants will have the skills needed to recognise the signs of mental health issues in a young person, and the ability to offer first aid to help them get the support they need.
I think this is a fantastic opportunity, and will be attending be on the October course. For more details visit www.ehe.org.uk