NYA chief backs youth worker mental wellbeing role

Laura McCardle
Monday, January 20, 2014

Youth workers can play a key role in supporting young people struggling with mental health problems, the head of the National Youth Agency (NYA) has said.

YoungMinds has launched a new campaign calling for improvements to mental health and support services for children and young people
YoungMinds has launched a new campaign calling for improvements to mental health and support services for children and young people

Fiona Blacke, chief executive of NYA, was responding to the publication of new research that found a third of children and young people suffering with depression do not know who to turn to for support.

The poll of 2,000 11- to 25-year-olds, commissioned by YoungMinds, reveals that the mental wellbeing of children and young people is being increasingly affected as they struggle to deal with a range of life pressures.

Blacke said young people need youth workers now more than ever before to help them cope with the pressures of life.

She said: “A friend of my daughter’s committed suicide recently, he was 15-years-old, so young people’s mental health is very much at the forefront of my thinking at the moment.

“I know young people live with more pressure and expectation than ever before and many don’t know what to do when it all gets too much.

“If he had had access to a youth worker they might have been able to provide the space and support he needed.

“Young people need someone to listen, offer support and help equip them with the skills and self-knowledge to be resilient when times are tough.”

The YoungMinds' research also shows that more than half of children and young people believe they will be a failure if they do not achieve good exam grades, while half report being bullied.

It also found that 40 per cent of 11- to 14-year-olds skip meals in an attempt to stay thin, while more than half of the same age group have watched online pornography.

Lucie Russell, Youngminds' director of campaigns, said: “Young people tell us they experience a continuous onslaught of stress at school, bullying, sexual pressures and bleak employment prospects.

“When this becomes too much for them they don’t know where to turn for help and when they do often the support isn’t there for them.”

As a result of the report, the charity has launched a youth-led campaign calling for improvements to mental health and support services.

YoungMinds Vs will focus on pressures caused by bullying, sex, exams, unemployment and access to counselling.

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