The number of young people in the UK suffering from poor mental health is on the rise, even though the availability of treatment and assistance is inconsistent. According to the findings of our most recent report, there is an urgent need to teach resiliency skills to young people to reduce the likelihood that they will experience issues with their mental health in the future.
In England, there are 12.5 million young folks, and one in ten will struggle with their mental health at some point. However, only one in every four young people seeks help for mental health issues, even though half of all lifetime mental health issues begin before the age of 14. To ensure that every adolescent who requires assistance with their mental health can receive it, an additional 23,800 staff members at an expense of £1.77 billion are required. On the other hand, this is not feasible shortly.
The Treatment Void
To eliminate the treatment gap, we need to invest in increasing the resiliency of young people so that we can reduce the likelihood that they will experience mental health problems in the first place. According to the findings of a recent study conducted in Wales, individuals who have a high level of resiliency during early life have less than half the risk of developing a mental medical condition when compared with individuals who have a low level of resilience during adolescence. The early years, up until the age of 18, are the ideal time to develop resilience because of the positive effects it has on mental health throughout a person’s entire life.
The capacity to deal with the pressures and difficulties of everyday life in a balanced and optimistic manner is what we mean when we talk about resilience. This means drawing on personal resources such as the capacity to deal with anxiety and troubling thoughts, as well as social supports such as encouraging great interactions with family, friends, and grown-ups, including educators.
A child’s capacity to build resilience can be negatively impacted by their social and economic environment. When compared to their peers from families with higher incomes, children who come from families with lower incomes have a significantly higher risk of having poor mental health.
A Strategy With Two Components
A two-pronged strategy is required to reduce the risk of poor mental health in adolescence as well as later in life. First and foremost, parents require assistance to be able to offer a safe environment for their families’ offspring. In addition to this, parents, school systems, and other organizations that work with young people have a responsibility to assist children in the development of healthy relationships and instruct them on how to cope with relationship troubles and other challenges in life.
Secondly, we ought to take measures to reduce the potential impact on the mental health of children. These dangers include being subjected to any form of abuse, living in a poor household, and having other unfavorable life experience during early life, including being bullied. The presence of healthy relationships with members of one’s own family, friends and peers, one’s teachers, and with other adults can serve as a protective barrier against adverse experiences.
Investing in preventative measures would save money over the long haul for the government, the National Health Service (NHS), education, the system of criminal justice, and business owners; consequently, making investments in the adaptability of children ought to be everybody’s business.
Even though numerous calls for action have been made over the last 10 years, very little progress has been made. In many domains, there is no strategy, and investments in preventative action are frequently made on a short-term basis.
To plan for a generation that is capable of withstanding adversity, public health must collaborate with other sectors, including education, health, parents, and young people. Together, they need to determine the steps they can take for the entirety of the population as well as for the subsets of the population that are most susceptible to the danger. In addition to this, they will have to determine the order of their investments according to their priorities.
There is strong evidence for particular interventions that will both improve people’s mental health and provide an early return on investment. For instance, over three years, providing students with opportunities for emotional and social development in schools can result in cost savings of £5 for every £1 invested.
In addition, the local authority must take action to guarantee that susceptible families and youngsters have access to stable incomes, housing, as well as medical care, educational opportunities, and jobs. This includes making a coherent effort to minimize the damage caused by adverse experiences growing up, such as abusive behavior, and concentrating on youngsters who are particularly susceptible to having poor mental health, as is the situation with youngsters who have participated in the care of the state, such as those who have been adopted.
Even with an effective resilience program, there will always be a few adolescents who struggle with their mental health; therefore, it is critical to act promptly upon recognizing even the earliest symptoms of distress in these individuals. This has repercussions for every one of us in terms of knowing how to effectively respond and how to connect directly to the appropriate support.
Service With a Single Point of Contact
There are long wait lists for psychological health services for children, and we must establish obtainable and welcoming one-stop-shop facilities that can better meet their requirements. One example of such a service is Headspace, which is located in Australia and is a nationwide mental health care for youngsters that was crafted with insight from young people.
It is possible that the number of children who suffer from poor mental health can be cut in half within a generation by focusing on the development of resilience, reducing the dangers of mental health, and ensuring that efficient support is available. The advantages brought about by this will not simply accrue to young folks and the families in which they live, but also to society as a whole and the economy.
Everyone should be concerned with making investments in the resiliency of young people. It is past time to put an end to worrying and start doing something about the poor mental health that is prevalent among children and adolescents. Action is required. A necessary first step is for the government and other government services to make it abundantly clear that investing in the resiliency of children and adolescents is a top priority.