Mental wellbeing and young people

The CIPHE’s Under Pressure campaign aims to get the industry talking about mental health. With stress from exams, navigating growing up, relationships, and the pressures of social media (and online bullying), it seems the number of teenagers struggling with their mental wellbeing is on the rise.

Figures recently acquired by Tes (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) show that 17,500 college students are regularly seeking mental health support in England (not just for a one-off crisis). This figure was reached from the third of colleges that responded to their Freedom of Information Request, meaning the real number is higher.

Statistics from the mental health charity YoungMinds show that:

  • 1 in 6 young people aged 16-24 has symptoms of a common mental disorder such as depression or an anxiety disorder;
  • Half of all mental health problems manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by 24;
  • In 2017, suicide was the most common cause of death for both boys (16.2% of deaths) and girls (13.3%) aged between 5 and 19;
  • Nearly half of 17-19 year olds with a diagnosable mental health disorder has self-harmed or attempted suicide at some point, rising to 52.7% for young women;
  • Fewer than 1 in 3 children and young people with a diagnosable mental health condition get access to NHS care and treatment;
  • In total, less than 1% of the total NHS budget is spent on children and young people’s mental health services.

The causes of poor mental health in young people are varied. According to the Mental Health Foundation and Mental Health First Aid England, risk factors can include:

  • Having a long-term physical illness;
  • Having a parent who has had mental health problems, problems with alcohol or has been in trouble with the law;
  • Experiencing the death of someone close to them;
  • Having parents who separate or divorce;
  • Having been severely bullied or physically or sexually abused;
  • Peer pressure – including on social media;
  • Coping with uncertainty and change – moving home / schools;
  • Living in poverty or being homeless;
  • Experiencing discrimination, perhaps because of their race, sexuality or religion;
  • Acting as a carer for a relative, taking on adult responsibilities;
  • Having long-standing educational difficulties.

Children and teenagers can develop the same mental health problems as adults. It’s therefore incredibly important that colleges can offer a safe haven to seek help, with staff trained to recognise mental health issues, dedicated mental health first aiders and college counsellors. The encouraging news is that the same Tes report found the majority of colleges were stepping up to the plate, with a 713% rise in mental health first aiders and staff trained in mental health awareness.


Colleges can find out more about mental health training and access free resources at mhfaengland.org/individuals/youth

Young people can find support at youngminds.org.uk

For general information on mental health issues visit mind.org.uk

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