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Mental health stigma is stopping young people asking for help


Oct 26, 2016

A local youth charity has thrown its support behind a major new mental health awareness campaign, as YMCA research reveals more than one in three young people with mental health difficulties experience stigma.

YMCA Newcastle is backing #IAMWHOLE, an anti-stigma campaign run by NHS in partnership with YMCA, on social media and through a series of mental health-themed events, including a drop in for anyone who wants to talk or wants support with any issue at its SPACE2… young people’s centre on Pilgirm Street, Newcastle City Centre.

The #IAMWHOLE campaign is launched today, World Mental Health Day, by UK hip-hop artist Jordan Stephens. National research compiled by YMCA for the campaign has found that, of the young people who say they experience stigma around their mental health difficulties, more than a third (37%) say it happens at least once a week and 54% say it originates from their own friends.

Researchers spoke to more than 2,000 11 to 24-year-olds and found that 38% of those with mental health difficulties felt they were stigmatised. Of those, 56% said this stigma made them less willing to access professional support for their mental health difficulties and 70% said they were less likely to speak about their problems.

As part of its support, YMCA Newcastle which has supporting young people in the City since 1849 is asking its residents, staff and supporters to tweet photographs of themselves using the #IAMWHOLE hashtag with the campaign circle logo painted on their hands.

Nationally, the campaign, which is supported by major celebrities, including James Corden, Dermot O’Leary and Ed Sheeran, is asking people to:

● Challenge harmful language used to describe mental health difficulties so that young people can ask for help without fear of negative labels.

● Ask for support from friends, parents, teachers, GPs or youth workers.

● Show support by joining the #IAMWHOLE movement on social media and posting ‘circle on hand’ selfies in support of the anti-stigma message.

● Find and get help by visiting www.findgetgive.com – a mental health services directory for young people created by YMCA’s Right Here project in partnership with other local groups in Jordan’s childhood home of Brighton & Hove. This site allows users to search for support, share stories about their own mental health and give feedback on services they have used for others to read. ‘Find Get Give’ also includes resources for parents and carers.

In addition, Jordan has written a new song ‘Whole’ about tackling mental health issues and the #IAMWHOLE campaign features in the song’s music video, along with young people from YMCA’s Right Here mental health project in Brighton.

Jeff Hurst Chief Executive of YCMA Newcastle , said:

“No young person should be treated differently because they experience mental health difficulties. Yet, today’s research shows that mental health stigma is a sad reality for many young people.

“This is why we’re supporting the #IAMWHOLE campaign. Together we can tackle the stigma and the negative consequences young people are facing when trying to deal with their mental health difficulties alone and make sure they get the help and support they need.”

Jordan Stephens, said: “The #IAMWHOLE campaign message that ‘together we are whole’ is so important and I am pleased to be launching it today on World Mental Health Day. My mum is a trained therapist so I’ve seen how important it is for people to get the right support and not to feel isolated. I’ve also had friends and people close to me seriously affected by mental health issues. I wrote ‘Whole’ to express how I was feeling at the bottom of a situation. When the NHS suggested it could be used to give other people a way of feeling less alone, man that felt really good.”

Other findings from the YMCA’s research report include:

● More than three quarters (77%) of young people know someone who has experienced difficulties with their mental health.

● Anxiety (66%) and depression (51%) were the most common mental health conditions experienced by young people.

● Young people who believe stigma exists believe they can best tackle it by talking more about mental health (64%) and sharing their experiences (60%).

● 81% of young people who believe stigma exists say that school is the best place to combat it.

Dr Tim Kendall, National Clinical Director for Mental Health for NHS England, said:

“A lot of work is being done by the NHS in England to support improvements in children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, including major investment and service transformation over the next five years. Reaching out to young people who aren’t coming forward to access services due to fear of stigma is so important and the #IAMWHOLE campaign is helping to start that conversation with young people today online, through social media and an anti-stigma challenge initiative for schools.”

Follow #IAMWHOLE on Twitter or visit www.ymca.org.uk/i-am-whole

By Emily