The results of a survey conducted by stem4, a charity that works to prevent mental ill health in teenagers, has revealed a consensus among GPs and educators in England on the issue of poor mental health among young people aged between 11 and 18.
It was found that 78% of GPs have witnessed an increase in the number of young patients they see suffering from poor mental health compared to five years ago, with 63% reporting that they had seen a patient with an addiction, 89% reporting that they had seen a patient with an eating disorder, and 97% reporting that they had seen a patient with depression in the last five years.
Furthermore, 97% of GPs have also seen a young person who self-harms in the past five years, with 61% reporting that they see more cases of self-harm among young people now, than they did five years ago.
However, the survey also revealed that 36% of GPs who have received specialist training to support young patients dealing with self-harm said that they don’t believe their training to be adequate as they don’t feel confident in their abilities.
Moreover, half of GPs surveyed said that they had received no specialist training.
As for their thoughts on the mental health services available to young people, with the rise in cases of young people suffering from poor mental health 87% expect pressure on services to increase.
As a result 90% of GPs fear that young people suffering from poor mental health may come to harm while waiting for specialist treatment – a waiting list which comes as a result of a lack of funding, specialist training, and access to services.
To elaborate further, 76% of GPs said that the funding for mental health services for young people is already above and beyond the amount that was initially promised to be adequate to improve such services. 54% reported that specialist training on young people’s mental health was necessary. And 56% said that they would like to see a complete overhaul of mental health service provision.
Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Founder of stem4, Dr Nihara Krause, commented:
“Young people’s mental health services are at crisis point. GPs are having to cope with the consequences of our failure to focus on prevention, and a lack of access to specialist services. We may not be able to change the world we have created for our young people, but we need to take action to ensure that help is available when they need it. GPs are at the forefront of addressing this crisis and they need far more support.
“The increase in mental ill health among our young people is exacerbated by our trophy culture. They are under enormous pressure to succeed in every way, not only at school where they are constantly tested and graded, but also by endeavouring to gain social cachet by competing to be ‘followed’ and ‘liked’ on social media.”
In response to the findings, stem4 will be hosting a conference on 22 June to provide GPs with the latest information on dealing with poor mental health among young people.
You can read the full report entitled “A Time Bomb Waiting to Explode” at http://www.stem4.org.uk/images/downloads/a_time_bomb_waiting_to_explode
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