A lot happens in our teenage years. It's a time of firsts for many. Of new beginnings, new emotions, and new experiences. But it's also a time that's incredibly important for our mental health. 75% of those living with a illness will have started developing it before the age of 18.
For many, the developmental period our brain goes through between the ages of 10 and 24 will impact on everything else that follows. Our younger years are clearly crucial when it comes to our life-long mental health.
But if this period is so important, how are young people coping currently?
We know that one in ten young people aged 5 - 16 have a diagnosable mental health condition. That's three children in every classroom. But more worringly, everything points to a growing crisis in this area. We hear of services buckling, children being moved miles across the country to get basic help, and all too tragically, we hear of young people taking their life when they don't receive the support they desperately need.
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In fact, the Huffington Post reported earlier this year that self-harm among those with mental health problems under the age of 18 has more than doubled since 2011.
With mounting concerns amongst experts and frontline staff, public pressure is rising too. There's a growing clamour for action. And amongst all of this, the thing many parents crave are answers as to what they can do - how they can make sure their child gets the help and support they need, at the right time, in the right way.
So what can be done?
A crisis of this nature requires urgent action, and big answers. But the honest truth is that we simply don’t know enough about young people’s mental health at the moment. We don't know what parent or schools can do to help young people in crisis. We don't know the most effective ways to help young people. And we don't know the factors behind why mental health conditions develop in the first place.
It's a shocking indictment. And one we should all be gravely worried about. But for too long young people's mental health research has been under-prioritised and under-funded. In the UK, as with many countries, we don't place enough emphasis on finding the answers that will help us better understand mental health.
This is why this week we've launched a campaign calling for research into young people's mental health to be prioritised. We want to see this get the attention it truly deserves, so that we can improve our understanding of mental health, develop better treatments and drastically improve services.
Research will help us grow our evidence base on what works, when, for whom and how, so we can make sure children get the vital help they need.
Join us today. Help make young people's mental health a priority. And together let's tackle the growing crisis facing the next generation.
Last updated: 24 June 2016
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