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Wednesday, 01 March 2017

Mental health stigma preventing young people asking for support, survey shows

Written by Ella Pickover

Stigma is preventing young people from opening up about mental health issues, a youth charity has said.

Almost one in four young people (24%) would not confide in someone if they were experiencing a mental health problem, a poll commissioned by The Prince's Trust found.

More than a third (35%) feared it would make them "look weak", the survey of 2,215 16- to 25-year-olds from around the UK found.

And nearly a third (32%) of those who would keep quiet about an issue said they would be concerned that admitting to a problem could affect their job prospects.

Overall, four in five said they thought there was a stigma attached to mental health issues.

The online survey, published as part of The Prince's Trust Macquarie Youth Index, found that 47% had experienced some sort of mental health problem.

Dame Martina Milburn, chief executive at The Prince's Trust, 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 instil confidence in these young people that they won't be stigmatised 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."

Meanwhile a separate poll conducted by the charities YoungMinds, The Mix and selfharmUK found that an "alarming" number of teenage boys and young men had self-harmed.

The survey of 509 young men aged 16 to 24 from across the UK found that 24% had intentionally hurt themselves as a way of coping with a difficult situation or emotion.

The charities have launched a new campaign, What Men Need, to encourage young men to open and up and talk about their feelings.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, said: "People often assume that young men rarely suffer self-harm but this survey shows that, sadly, this is a myth.

"Self-harm is often misunderstood, so we need to better understand young men's distress and their responses, so that we can help.

"Our message to anyone who's struggling to cope is to talk to someone you trust - whether that's a friend, a family member, a counsellor or a confidential helpline. It isn't a sign of weakness to look for help."

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