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Stigma is Stopping Young People in Wales from Talking about Mental Health

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New Prince’s Trust research reveals that almost one in five young people in Wales (18%) would not confide in someone if they were experiencing a mental health problem, with many fearing that it could affect their job prospects.

The research, based on a survey of 2,215 respondents aged 16 to 25, found that the vast majority of young people in Wales (75%) think there is a stigma attached to mental health issues.

Conducted anonymously online, the research found that almost half 47% of young people in Wales have experienced a mental health issue and more than one in three young people (35%) have experienced suicidal thoughts. Worryingly, nearly a quarter of those who had experienced mental health issues (24%) said they didn’t seek any support.

PT img1Looking at the wider picture the findings also show that young people across the UK who have experienced a mental health problem are significantly less likely to feel in control of their job prospects, more likely to feel too tired and stressed to cope with day to day life and more likely to feel they have no control over their education, training or finances than their peers.

A third (32%) of those young people across the UK who would keep quiet about their mental health worries think admitting to a problem could affect their job prospects, 57% wouldn’t want anyone to know they were struggling and 35% fear it would make them look weak.

In light of these findings, The Prince’s Trust is calling for people to post on Twitter the things they do, big or small, that help them to #TakeControl of their lives in a bid to inspire and empower young people.

The findings were published today in part two of The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index. The first part, published in January this year, found that the overall wellbeing of young people in the UK is at its lowest point on the Index since the study was first commissioned in 2009and that one in three (31%) young people in the Wales don’t feel in control of their lives.

In the last year alone, the number of young people supported by The Prince’s Trust who are experiencing mental health problems has increased by 16%.

Phil Jones, Director for The Prince’s Trust Cymru said:

“We know issues like depression and anxiety can have a crippling impact on a young person’s aspirations and life chances, so it’s alarming to find that so many would rather live with mental health issues than talk to anyone about them.

“We must all work together to instill confidence in these young people that they won’t be stigmatized, and one of the key things we can do to help improve their mental health is to help them with their education, training and job prospects. Our personal development programmes give young people the self-esteem and coping skills that set them up not just for the workplace but for life.”

David Fass, CEO of Macquarie Group, EMEA said:

“It is concerning that one of the reasons young people are reluctant to talk openly about their mental health is that they think it will negatively affect their job prospects. At Macquarie, we encourage our people to bring their whole selves to work and understand that sometimes everyone needs a bit of extra support. Organisations like The Prince’s Trust can help young people to develop the skills and confidence they need to build the future they want; and that’s why, as UK employers, we are proud to support this important research.”

Professor Louise Arseneault, ESRC Mental Health Leadership Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London said:

“It is extremely worrying to see that young people suffer from the stigma around mental health. This can be a major obstacle for them in seeking help and finding support, which could further affect their confidence in finding work at a crucial stage in their lives. It shouldn’t be like this. Increasing the understanding and awareness of mental health problems among young people should be a key priority. We also need to explore ways of ensuring young people with mental health problems do not fall out of education or employment from an early age.”

As part of its ongoing commitment to help young people overcome any emotional well-being challenges that may be holding them back in life, The Prince’s Trust has launched a new mental health strategy to give its staff, volunteers and delivery partners the confidence and ability to respond to young people’s mental health needs.

The Trust has appointed Chris Harris as its first Mental Health Advisor, a new post funded by Royal Mail Group, and is forming new partnerships with mental health organisations and specialist services with the aim of co-locating mental health services at Prince’s Trust Centres.

Mental health support will be embedded in all The Trust’s employability and personal development programmes to help vulnerable young people access the most appropriate care at the earliest opportunity.

This year, The Prince’s Trust will support 60,000 disadvantaged young people to develop the confidence and skills they need to succeed in life. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training.