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The Rise of Youth Mental Illness

More diversely targeted support is needed to ensure the future mental health of our young people, found the 2012 – 2016 Youth Mental Health report. Recently released, this collaborative report between Mission Australia and The Black Dog Institute, showed that there has been a 4.1% increase, in the last 5 years, in the rate of mental illness in youth aged 15 to 19. Additionally, Indigenous youth were 9.4% more vulnerable to probable serious mental illness than non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. Girls were twice more vulnerable than boys.

Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said “The effects of mental illness at such a young age can be debilitating and incredibly harmful to an individual’s quality of life, academic achievement, and social participation both in the short term and long term.” Coping with stress, studying and depression were found to be the top worries of young people.

Mission Australia found that the 3 top “go-tos” for help were friends, parents and the Internet. Seeking information from the Internet suggested that young people are still scared of the stigma attached to being seriously mentally ill, according to Black Dog Institute Director, Professor Helen Christensen. The report urged for more community education and stated that early intervention could help as well.

Mission Australia : Action urgently needed to stem rising youth mental illness

What we need to remember is, that for every person experiencing a mental illness, there are usually a few people in their family who are caring for them. Also, as stated in a previous article, carers are often suffering themselves. So many of our young carer’s expression of interest forms come in stating that the young carer is suffering from anxiety or depression, that the State of Mind workshop was organised by Carers Australia WA.

Ongoing, Young Carers WA will be continuing to work with the Carers WA Counselling program to provide workshops for young carers. Andi Dackins, our new Schools Engagement Project Officer is developing the Cloud Program which will be implemented in conjunction with schools, communities and the Carers WA Counsellors to “support communities to be Carer proud and Aloud”.

A synopsis of the 7 Key policy recommendations from the 2012 – 2016 The Youth Mental Health report:

  1. More government funding is needed for prevention and intervention programs in schools.
  2. Technological alternatives to face-to face support needs to be invested in.
  3. Friends, family, peer support and peer education initiatives need to be utilised.
  4. The proximity and age appropriateness needs to be carefully considered when supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. Intergenerational disadvantage needs to be addressed, led by Aboriginal elders and communities.
  5. A gendered approach is needed which considers the method of help sought, gender identity and appearance pressures.
  6. Community and recovery models are as important as clinical services.
  7. “Young people experiencing mental illness should be recognised as experts in their own lives.”

Along with the Counselling, the Young Carers and the Cloud programs at Carers WA, many other supports exist for young people experiencing mental distress. Take a look at our “More Sites” page for further information.