Mental illness amongst young people in Australia is on the rise**. As parents, ministry workers and caring adults, it is important for us to be aware of the statistics that are both alarming and perhaps overwhelming. Chances are you know at least one young person who is suffering from a mental illness.
WHAT IS OUR ROLE?
While awareness and information are growing, and people are more open to talking about it, what role can we play?
The first thing to remember is that (most of us) are not trained psychologists, doctors or health professionals, but we can help. Be up to date with and follow all the guidelines outlined in ChildSafe* and any other training that you may have received.
When talking with a young person who is struggling:
- Assess the risk of harm to the individual or others.
- Listen without judging.
- Give reassurance and provide information.
- Encourage the caregivers to seek professional help for their child.
- Encourage self-help strategies.
YOUNG PEOPLE AND MENTAL HEALTH
Here are just a few statistics from Youth Beyond Blue (www.youthbeyondblue.com).
- Half of all the mental health conditions we experience at some point in our lives will have started by age 14.
- Over 75% of mental health problems occur before the age of 25.
- One in seven young people aged 4 to 17 years experience a mental health condition in any given year.
- One in ten young people aged 12-17 years old will self-harm, one in 13 will seriously consider a suicide attempt, and one in 40 will attempt suicide.
- 6.9% of children and young people (aged 4 to 17 years) had suffered from an anxiety disorder in the past 12 months.
- Young people are less likely than any other age group to seek professional help.
- Almost one-fifth of all young people aged 11 to 17 years experience high or very high levels of psychological distress.
- One in ten young people aged 12 to 17 years have engaged in self-harm.
- Suicide continues to be the leading cause of death for young Australians.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Find out all that you can about mental illness and arm yourself with tools to help you when you come across a situation.
Here are some great websites to help you find out more:
YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
An excellent course, which we highly recommend, is the Youth Mental Health First Aid Course. You can find out more here: https://mhfa.com.au/courses/public/types/youthedition4
* ChildSafe is a Safety Management System to assist organisations that work with children and young people. www.childsafe.org.au.
** This article was originally written before the time of our current global epidemic. Now, more than ever this information is relevant and important.