Mental Wellbeing of Young People

mental wellbeing

September hosted the first Young Mental Health Day on the 7th focusing on Resilience and World Suicide Prevention Day was on the 10th.

In 2018 (these are the most up to date statistics currently), 759 young people took their own life in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy that devastated families, friends and communities. 3/4 of deaths among young people are male and rates are highest in men aged 20-24. The suicide rate for young females is now at its highest rate on record. (The Samaritans Suicide Statistics 2019).

The mental wellbeing for children and young people is even more important now after lockdown as we are returning to some sort of routine with schools and colleges. For many young people they will be happy to go back to school/college as with that brings routine, structure and for some, safety and security. For other young people who have been able to have a bit of respite from some of their school/college based anxieties, they are now being thrust back into the unknown where the environments themselves bring uncertainties/anxieties.

Throughout my career where I have worked extensively with children and young people in various settings, there are themes that run through regarding anxieties that children and young people experience. For one young person I worked with, attending school itself was the trigger for the anxiety. For another young person, who was also a young carer, their anxieties were centred around not wanting to leave their parent as they did not trust the external carers to look after them properly. For these young people, a return to school would undoubtedly have brought along heightened feelings of anxiety that would need to be handled sensitively in order to maintain their mental wellbeing. Both young people self-harmed and had suicidal thoughts.

The following is a list of 10 common themes in suicide by children and young people (Suicide by children & young people HQIP – July 2017) that impacted on their mental wellbeing, and these are the issues we need to help children and young people work through. There were a combination of these themes with both young people I had the pleasure of working with as mental wellbeing is multi-faceted.

1. Family factors such as mental illness
2. Abuse and neglect
3. Bereavement and experience of suicide
4. Bullying
5. Suicide-related internet use
6. Academic pressures, especially related to exams
7. Social isolation or withdrawal
8. Physical health conditions that may have social impact
9. Alcohol and illicit drugs
10. Mental ill health, self-harm and suicidal

These themes were backed up by Young Minds who conducted a survey of young people aged under 25 who had looked for support for their mental health in the UK. This survey was conducted in 2019 and was completed by 7,083 young people in the UK. From this survey one of the main factors affecting mental wellbeing was pressure to do well at school or college (77%), followed by worrying about how you look (69%); Problems with family (62%). Spending too much time on social media was also a factor for many (27%) (Young Minds-act-early-survey), so as professionals we need to first understand the issues that children and young people are facing in order to help them become more resilient and improve their mental wellbeing so they don’t feel there is no way out.

We should never under estimate the power of talking and being accessible and available, as well as the power of not talking but being present, and the power of building relationships with the children and young people we are working with. There also needs to be a great deal of partnership working with not just the child/young person, but also parents/carers/other agencies/schools/colleges in order to provide consistent strategies that are child/young person centred. I have worked with many agencies where there has been brilliant partnership working, and equally I have worked with others where there is still a lot of work to be done. These strategies may not help every single child/young person we work with, but if it helps just one child/young person to feel we are in “their corner,” and that they are not alone, then it is 1 less tragic statistic.


  • Mental health awareness for children & young people
  • Self -harm, suicide and ligature Training
  • Safeguarding Training
  • Understanding the needs of children looked after Training
  • Child development, attachment & resilience Training

Book a Course