Amanda Jones, Action Mental Health’s Operations Manager Resilience and Wellbeing, has today welcomed the publication of the findings from the Northern Ireland Youth Wellbeing Survey.
“This is a vital piece of research which supports the evidence we see and hear each and every day from children, young people and those who care for them, right across Northern Ireland. The survey showed that 12.6% of children and young people in Northern Ireland experience common mood disorders such as anxiety and depression – around 25% higher than in other UK nations, reflecting similar trends we see in adults across Northern Ireland.
The survey also highlighted the complex and multi-faceted reasons behind these issues, including exposure to family trauma and adversity, poor child health and disability, having special educational needs, living in a household in receipt of social security benefits, and parental mental health. The survey showed particular issues with older children, including older teenage girls. The survey showed this particular group had the highest rates of anxiety and depression, but the study also demonstrated that the issues start at a very young age, with particularly high rates amongst young boys aged 5-10.
Action Mental Health has been delivering services to help promote early intervention and prevention for almost twenty years and as a local charity with local expertise, we have developed these services to help meet the very specific set of circumstances we face in Northern Ireland. We are seeing ever-increasing demand for our services and are heavily reliant on fundraising by the local community to help us meet that demand. The impact of the pandemic on fundraising income and on demand for our services demonstrates the need for more statutory funding of these vital services to ensure their long term sustainability.
The eagerly anticipated ten-year mental health strategy offers us a unique opportunity to really prioritise early intervention and prevention at all ages, but especially with our children and young people. Investing in these services now, will ensure a healthier and more resilient population in the years ahead.”
The Youth Wellbeing Survey was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board. The survey and report were compiled by Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast, and the Mental Health Foundation, over 18 months.
You can find out more about the survey by clicking here.