Young people are so afraid of the stigma attached to mental health issues, many would rather live with the problem than reach out for help, a new study has revealed.
Almost a quarter (24%) of 16 to 25 year olds say they would not confide in anyone if they were experiencing mental health problems, with many afraid that it could affect their job prospects or make them look “weak”.
Mental health experts have branded the results of the research around stigma “extremely worrying”.
King’s College London psychologist Professor Louise Arseneault said: “This can be a major obstacle for them [young people] in seeking help and finding support, which could further affect their confidence in finding work at a crucial stage in their lives. It shouldn’t be like this.
“Increasing the understanding and awareness of mental health problems among young people should be a key priority.”
In a survey of 2,215 young people online, The Prince’s Trust found that almost half (47%) have suffered a mental health issue.
Despite this, 78% still believe there is stigma attached to these kinds of health concerns.
Of the 24% who said they would be afraid to speak out if they were suffering from a mental health problem, more than half (57%) said it was because they wouldn’t want people to know they were struggling.
While 35% were worried sharing this information would make them “look weak”, nearly a third (32%) believed that admitting to a problem could affect their job prospects.
The organisation’s CEO Dame Martina Milburn said: “We know issues like depression and anxiety can have a crippling impact on a young person’s aspirations and life chances, so it’s alarming to find that so many would rather live with mental health issues than talk to anyone about them.
“We must all work together to instill confidence in these young people that they won’t be stigmatised, and one of the key things we can do to help improve their mental health is to help them with their education, training and job prospects.”
To help combat these issues, the young person’s charity has launched a new mental health strategy for staff and volunteers and has appointed its first dedicated mental health advisor.
The organisation is also encouraging people to share the ways they take control of their lives on Twitter, using the hashtag #takecontrol.