First, let’s reflect on last year:
COVID-19 has affected young people mentally, physically and socially. As young people, we had to adapt to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends and anxious about our futures because of the uncertainty. The government let down our university students as many students were treated unfairly.
We couldn’t see family members in person that were outside of our household and there was pressure from society to act a certain way. This was due to the fact that we were blamed for the spread of COVID-19 at one stage when in fact it wasn’t just us and many other things.
The waiting lists for young people’s services got even longer, beds on mental health wards were filled so some young people had to go onto adult wards many miles away from their family.
Let’s not forget that there are many other struggles that young people went through during the Pandemic.
What’s happening a year on?
The consequences of the pandemic are still being felt by everyone. Especially young people. Young People are still facing many challenges in their everyday lives – and this is having a continuous impact on their mental health and wellbeing. For many people who are already facing challenges, their lives are harder than ever.
Young people are feeling like they aren’t being listened to when it comes to issues that they care about. The waiting lists for mental health support is still long and it doesn’t seem like it will get shorter any time soon.
More young people are becoming aware of climate change and are becoming increasingly more worried by the minute. Now that we are getting back to some sort of normality, companies are resuming as normal as they can. However, because companies are wanting to keep minimal staff, there are less jobs for young people to go into. As well as more competition since there are more people applying for them.
What do young people need more of?
Since the pandemic, the challenges that young people face and their needs have come to light even more. The support available in schools, colleges and universities still needs to be looked into as young people have faced stress, isolation and so much more whilst not being in schools due to lockdowns.
Peer support in places such as schools, colleges and universities could help when young people are in need of someone to talk to. As well as having toolkits to direct young people to support outside of schools, colleges and universities. This is because mental health within young people isn’t just affected by schools etc.
Also, having a space within schools, colleagues and universities where young people can come together on a weekly basis to feel more connected, to talk through their week and any concerns they have with others their age. However, still having the guidance of a wellbeing officer or councillor to help them if they need more help.
I also think having opportunities for young people to spread awareness about issues that they care about such as podcasts, having a social media presence and so on. This could help aid young people in getting better as they are being listened to by a wider audience, helping others and getting their feelings off their chests without the pressure of thinking that in a couple of weeks time, the support will just stop.
There are so many more resources that could help more young people: such as workshops to build confidence, and other aspects of life, social groups, youth clubs and overall just giving more power to young people to say what they need for them.
So, let’s see what this year’s goal is?
This year, the World Health Organisation goal is to demonstrate the achievements made in countries and advocate for you to highlight positive stories as part of your own activities, as an inspiration to others.
Put simply, World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for us all to have positive and productive conversations with each other. These are discussions that could and should happen everyday, but today is an opportunity to educate yourselves on how easy it is to have these discussions so that you can continue to do so moving forward.
To celebrate, the young people working on Platfform4YP have all made short videos addressing a specific question that means something to them! Find these on our Vimeo page alongside other videos here! These videos are meant to act as springboards and platforms for discussion so please take what you learn from them and utilise it in your everyday life to destigmatize mental health for all!