NEWS

Lonely, Uncertain, Isolated - Report Paints Worrying Picture of Young Adults’ Mental Health

Lucy Donoughue
By Lucy Donoughue,
updated on Nov 26, 2019

Mental Health Foundation publishes ‘State of A Generation’ report, exploring the factors that negatively impact young adults mental health

A major new report by the Mental Health Foundation reveals that hundreds of thousands of young people aged between 16 and 25 are unsure of who to turn to when they are experiencing mental health challenges, and are feeling lonely and isolated.

The State of A Generation report seeks to understand the challenges young people face in regards to their mental health, and where a mental health prevention approach could be effective moving forwards.

The research is supported by the Cochrane Mental Disorders Group at York University and draws upon the responses of 2,552 young people who took part in a YouGov online survey in August this year.

The findings suggest there are issues around loneliness, location and trust in existing mental health systems, with a quarter of those surveyed saying that they often feel they lack companionship and feel left out.

21% of respondents stated that where they live has a negative effect on their mental health. While over half surveyed (55%) said they knew where to go for mental health and wellbeing support, only 34% were confident they would be able to get the help they needed.

The report makes a number of recommendations to tackle these issues, including; parenting programmes, support with articulating mental health challenges, a greater emphasis on teaching skills to support good mental health, and enabling community leaders to push for relevant local mental health support to reflect and respond to specific issues that arise where they live.

I grew up in an estate in Yorkshire, and it’s really clear that a downturn in my mental health coincided with the depleting of community infrastructure such as the community centre on my estate closing down and green spaces not being maintained

In addition to these initial recommendations, this report will be repeated every three years to measure, and respond to, the factors that influence young people’s mental health.

Jodie Beck from the Mental Health Foundation’s Youth Advisory Panel, who advised on the report, said: “This report is so important because it brings young people’s specific experiences of mental health with concrete recommendations and solutions for policy-makers.

“I wanted to be part of the panel because I want to make a difference. I experienced poor mental health throughout my teenage years, and never had the opportunity to use that lived experience to create change within the mental health support services that are available to young people.

“I grew up in an estate in Yorkshire, and it’s really clear that a downturn in my mental health coincided with the depleting of community infrastructure, such as the community centre on my estate closing down and green spaces not being maintained. There is a lot we can do to improve things for young people.”

Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, Mark Rowland said: “Our research has painted a worrying picture of young people, with many reporting that they are feeling isolated or don’t know where they can turn to if they experience emotional problems.

Our society needs to go a lot further in tackling issues like stigma and opening up channels for young people to talk about their problems

“Large numbers try to manage in silence. With only half of young people saying they can speak about their emotions with others, our society needs to go a lot further in tackling issues like stigma and opening up channels for young people to talk about their problems.

“The focus of this research is how to prevent young people feeling this way and to support their mental health by addressing these issues. Prevention is the best tool we have to alleviate these negative experiences by creating the conditions in which young people feel more connected, more able to talk about their problems, and to find help they can rely on. By addressing these things, we can make big inroads into the issue.”

This report is one of three commissioned to mark the Mental Health Foundation’s 70th Anniversary. The Foundation was established in 1949 and it’s mission is to help people understand, protect and sustain their mental health.

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

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