Mindfull of young people's mental health

29 July 2013

A new online counselling service aimed at 11-17 year olds has just been launched by the UK bullying prevention charity Beat Bullying.

It comes at a critical time where cuts in local services have meant that many young people are finding it increasingly difficult to access help for mental health needs in non-stigmatising, self-referral settings. This new website promises to ‘offer young people access to a safe and secure online network of peer and professional support, improving their emotional resilience and developing positive coping mechanisms that enable young people to be happy and healthy’.

We welcome this innovative new provision. The ability to find help through a medium with which they feel comfortable will hopefully help young people to get help sooner and offer an accessible and flexible response to their needs. Online services, though, do not come without their difficulties. For some young people access to a confidential area in their home where they can access online help will be limited or problematic. There is a wider issue here.

It’s clear that much more work is needed to make mental health services more accessible and meaningful for children and young people. The harsh reality is that traditional Child and adolescent mental health services are struggling. We need to ensure that young people can seek help in whatever settings they feel suit them best, be it in their school or in their community. This means more education in schools about mental health issues, to understand them better, to reduce the stigma associated with them, and to help children and young people support their peers when they are having mental health problems. Above all, there is a need for more mental health and emotional literacy among those who work with children and young people.

The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition launched its Resilience and Results Competition earlier this year to highlight and celebrate the work schools in England are doing to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of their students, staff and parents. We need to carry on publicising the efforts schools are making in this area, promoting best practice and driving up standards. Young people’s mental health is something that should concern us all. As a society we have dedicated a lot of time and resources to ensure the increased physical health of our young people and we now need to ensure we make as good an investment in their mental health.