Mental Health is one of the greatest casualties of the current pandemic. Not just our mental health, but that of our children. In 2017 over 682 children, aged between 10-29 took their own life. Statistics for this time have not been released. It is evident though that mental health has been affected, in all ages, as we live in lockdown.
Poor mental health will affect all aspects of your life. Your resilience levels will become lower. You will find it harder to work, concentrate or support others.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. You need to be well yourself to support others.
Risk Factors to Youth Mental Health
These can primarily be divided into three categories, the first being family. Family can have both a positive and negative effect on the mental health of young people. Some families will have their mental health to check. A parent with mental health issues can be a great support to a young person experiencing similar problems. It is also true that being a young carer can affect the mental health of young people.
As the pandemic rages on, some young people may be dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. This can have a catastrophic effect. Especially as in the present climate, many will not be given the opportunity of full closure, due to limited funeral numbers.
Other factors that can be a risk to mental health would be the financial situation of the family. Poverty is on the increase, more people are finding themselves having to access food banks to survive. Poor families will have less income to spend on non-essentials such as new clothes. This could easily lead to the young person being bullied over their appearance.
Bullying will come into our second category which is community influences. One of the biggest risks to mental health in young people is drug and alcohol abuse. As teenagers find themselves involved in drugs, they may then turn to crime to fund their habit. Theft could be one way of working for the drug suppliers themselves. When a young person becomes involved with drug selling there is always rival gangs that will be against each other. This type of drug selling is known as county lines and can have a huge effect on a young person's mental health. The fear of always fearing a rival gang finding you.
The last area which may affect mental health will be within a school. There are huge expectations put on young people at school. Constant pressure and assessment can have a huge effect on mental health. This constant pressure is compounded by staff that are not trained. Staff who are not trained may inadvertently make the mental health of students worse.
Within the school, there is also a stigma attached to mental health. People will see the illness rather than the person, students may feel others will avoid them if they admit they are struggling. All these expectations can lead to further deterioration of a person's mental health.
Non-Suicide Self Injury
NSSI as it has recently been classified was previously known as self-harm or injury. It is important to stipulate here that NSSI is a behaviour, not a diagnosis. It is part of a coping strategy, it does not mean that a person is trying to take their own life. It is okay if worried though to ask the young person if they are having suicidal thoughts. If you are concerned at all, then I would always suggest seeking medical help. In severe circumstances, you may need to access your local accident and emergency department. 18% of students aged 12 - 17 report self-harming at some point in their life.
Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Problems.
There are main signs that someone you know has deteriorating mental health. These can be classified in one of three ways: look, feel or act.
You will notice when looking at these signs that many of them cross over to more than one category. This is because every aspect of mental health will impact all aspects of your life. These signs must be recognised as early as possible. Help can then be sort, so during this difficult time take a little extra time to observe the people around you. Seek help if you are worried as soon as possible.