Pressure on young over mental illness

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The extent of pressure young people are facing over mental health problems is revealed in a new survey which shows that a far greater number are exposed to the problem than previously thought.

The extent of pressure young people are facing over mental health problems is revealed in a new survey which shows that a far greater number are exposed to the problem than previously thought.

The survey of more than 1,000 15- to 21-year-olds across the country reveals that three-quarters of them know someone who suffered from a psychological illness such as depression or schizophrenia.

Just under half also have a friend or relative who had harmed themselves, and one-quarter say they are worried about the mental health of a young person they know.

The alarming findings have been published by the Department of Health, and in response ministers have launched a campaign aimed at improving the understanding of mental health issues among young people.

Backed by psychiatrists and mental health charities, The Independent on Sunday is campaigning for the rights of the millions of people suffering from mental illness and for them to have access to better services.

More than a third of those interviewed in the survey said they knew someone who had attempted suicide, nearly two-thirds knew someone who had suffered depression and 17 per cent knew someone who had suffered schizophrenia.

Young women had the greatest exposure to people who were mentally ill – 93 per cent compared to 79 per cent of young men.

However, as many as 97 per cent admitted they knew little about mental health issues, and 96 per cent felt more information should be available so they could understand mental illness, especially when sufferers resorted to self-harm or suicide.

Charities said it highlighted the fact that young people needed more support so they are better able to deal with the growing problem.

Paul Corry, of the charity Rethink, said: "A better understanding of mental illness would help reduce the stigma that stops young people asking for help and also contributes to the worrying levels of attempted suicide."

Peter Wilson, chief executive of Young Minds, said: "They and their parents need to know how to help friends who are struggling with the demands of growing up today."

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