Youth mental health during covid-19. Reach out for help!

Covid -19 outbreak hit people really hard, the uncertainty of it, lack of reliable information, lack of understanding of what is safe and what isn’t on top of social isolation, lack of usual support network, concerns about financial stability all lead to a mental health crisis. Even people who usually don’t consider themselves struggling with mental health are finding things extremely difficult, those who have been experiencing mental health issues prior to lockdown have found their problems worsen as a result of it.

When we think about the economic crisis we understand that it might take years for the country to recover, now let’s think about the mental health crisis in the same way. Years of NHS cuts, closure of children’s centres and worsening financial situation of individual families means people are finding it difficult to access help when they need it. Now imagine if all of this is happening to a teenager who is going through transformational change and all the emotions, hormones and uncertainty that it brings. The peer pressure to look cool, to act cool doesn’t make it easy to admit that you’re struggling with mental health. Teenagers are known for being stroppy, full of frustration and attitude, but what is hiding behind these stereotypes? Apparently 75% of mental health problems are established by the time a person is 18?

Based on statistics from Mental Health Foundation (2020) 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. And this is statistics prior to covid -19 and associated measures. Also mental health problems are the largest cause of disability in the UK. Youth Engagement Services (YES) is York based charity that knows this statistics very well, we also understand that teenagers from socially disadvantaged backgrounds find things particularly difficult at the best of times, and now even more so. There might be less time for these families to spend together if parents are working a lot, there might be even higher peer pressure to be and act “cool” and to fit in with the group of peers, there might be not enough positive role models. Usually YES goes into the community, meets young people, does drop in clinics, rans mental health support groups, organises events and recreational workshops to keep them off the streets, gives them something positive to do that might give them a sense of pride. We know that our work makes a difference to these people.

Like any organisation we had to think quickly and adapt to ever changing situations. We have teamed up with some great local businesses to run weekly online workshops and we have moved our mental health support groups online. We are still providing our vital services online but we have found that the number of people approaching our team for mental health support and number of people signing up for our workshops have been low. So we are asking people in York to point young adults and children to us if you think they are finding things hard and they could benefit from our services. As a charity working with mental health we know that sometimes people find it difficult to reach out especially if they are trying to be “cool”. We are on Facebook and Instagram and we have an amazing team of volunteers to help young people and children aged 11-18.


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