Why We Must Champion Mental Well-Being For Our Young People

Our culture is facing a mental health crisis.

The stats make harrowing reading:

  • In 2017, suicide was the most common cause of death for both boys (16.2%) and girls (13.3%) aged between 5 and 19.
  • 20% of young people aged 5-16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. This equates to between 3-5 per class.

Many of you reading this will share my experience of seeing a young person you love struggling emotionally or even attempting to take their own life. The sense of helplessness is over-whelming.

I am not alone. I have listened with a growing sense of alarm as an increasing number of my friends and peers have shared similar stories.

It is at times like these when the bottom falls out of your world, when our cultural crisis suddenly becomes a family crisis.

Yet beneath this issue lies a deeper, wider sense of malaise among our young (and not so young) people.

In a recent survey by the OECD conducted across 79 countries, 15 year olds in the UK were second last in what they call the ‘meaning in life index’. UK teenagers are among the least likely globally to agree with the idea that “my life has clear meaning or purpose”.

Given that a sense of meaning or purpose in life is a key component of emotional well-being and achievement, this insidious sense of pointlessness will continue to erode the emotional health of our culture as teenagers today mature into adulthood.

At WildHearts we are passionate about inspiring our young people to fulfil their potential and empowering them to become the leaders our world deserves. That is why we created the WildHearts Schools Programme. However, to achieve this we must also provide them with the foundations they need to look after their own emotional and mental well-being.

That is why I am honoured to announce an enhancement to the WildHearts School Programme.

We are now working with leading experts in the field of mental health and have committed to making their expertise more widely available to our young people.

Our strategy is a threefold empowerment programme designed to:

  1. Empower young people to look after their own mental well-being.
  2. Empower their teachers with the training and guidance they need to support the young people in their care.
  3. Empower their parents and carers with the support and knowledge they need to help their children.

To achieve this, we will be running a series of training webinars with leading mental health experts for teenagers and parents. We will also be providing teachers in our WildHearts Partner Schools with access to online training programmes to enhance their understanding and ability to respond to this issue. To find out more and apply for your place, click here. And as with all elements of the WildHearts Schools Programme, this will be provided completely free of charge thanks to our WildHearts customers and School Programme Partners.

Our plan is also designed to deliver longer term benefits both in terms of the mental well-being of adults in the future and a positive impact on the wider economy.

This conviction is based on the following research:

  • 50% of all mental health problems manifest by age 14 and 75% by age 24. Providing high-quality intervention for young people reduces the instances of more severe mental health problems in adulthood.
  • In 2015, mental health problems were the third biggest cause of sick leave.
  • The cost to UK GDP of mental health related absence was £5.4 Billion.

I have seen the transformation that can occur in a teenager’s mental health when the right intervention is provided at the right time. Helping to alleviate the suffering that is affecting so many of our young people and those that love them has been a personal passion for some time now.  I am so grateful to the WildHearts team, our friends, and customers that WildHearts is now able to put that passion into action.

Together, we can help stop a cultural crisis from becoming a family catastrophe. By addressing the huge personal cost to individuals suffering from poor mental health, we can simultaneously reduce the immense economic cost to our society.  The positive outcomes in terms of personal, family, and societal well-being cannot easily be expressed in words. I am honoured that WildHearts can now play its part.

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