Charity warns of ‘huge gaps’ in mental health support for young people

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New research has revealed “huge gaps” in early support for young people experiencing mental health problems, according to a charity.

Three-quarters of young people who have sought mental health support have ended up managing their problems themselves because they could not get help elsewhere, YoungMinds claimed.

The mental health charity’s survey also found that two-thirds of respondents, who were all under the age of 25 and had looked for help over their mental wellbeing, were unable to find support when they first needed it.

Emma Thomas (pictured), YoungMinds’ chief executive, said: “These results show how hard it can be for young people to get help when they first start to struggle – and we know that the impact of leaving it too late can be devastating.”

It is vital that young people can access help when they need it, she added.

The research also found that while many young people are left to confront mental health problems alone, only 17% of respondents felt confident in their ability to manage their issues by themselves.

When asked what factors have had a significant impact on their mental health, the most common answer given by respondents was pressure to do well at school or college (77%).

This was followed by worrying about how they look (69%) and problems with family (62%) and friends (52%).

Around a quarter of respondents (27%) said spending too much time on social media was a significant factor.

Ms Thomas added that the Government must “take action to address the factors that can affect young people’s mental health – like academic pressure and how we support children who have lived through traumatic experiences.”

The survey found friends are the most common source of support for young people seeking help with their mental health, with 71% of those survey saying they had turned to one.

Parents were the second most popular support provider (63%), while 53% of respondents said they had used the internet to look for help.

YoungMinds is launching its Act Early campaign, which is calling for a new Government strategy for dealing with young people’s mental health which makes early intervention a priority.

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