Northern Ireland news

Almost half of young people have experienced a mental health problem, new research reveals

Almost 70 per cent of young people in Northern Ireland have admitted they regularly feel stressed
Marie Louise McConville

ALMOST 70 per cent of young people in Northern Ireland have admitted they regularly feel stressed while nearly a half have experienced mental health problems, new research has revealed.

According to a survey by the Prince's Trust, young people fear for their emotional health while 44 per cent have experienced a mental health problem amid worries about the future, money and generally "not being good enough".

The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index, which is based on a survey of 2,194 respondents aged 16 to 25, found that the happiness and confidence young people across the UK feel in their emotional health has dropped to the lowest levels since the study was first commissioned in 2009.

When asked to describe how they feel, almost 70 per cent in Northern Ireland said they regularly feel stressed, 60 per cent said anxious and a third said hopeless on a regular basis.

In response to the findings, a group of young people from The Prince’s Trust Team programme in Belfast have created a mental health programme to support their peers - the HOPE programme (Hold on Pain Ends).

The programme, to be run in partnership with suicide prevention charity PIPs is being offered to youth groups, schools and colleges to raise awareness and reduce the risk of suicide and self-harm.

Prince’s Trust chief executive, Nick Stace, said: "It should ring alarm bells for us all that young people in Northern Ireland and across the UK are feeling more despondent about their emotional health than ever before.

"This is a generation rapidly losing faith in their ability to achieve their goals in life, who are increasingly wary of and disillusioned with the jobs market and at risk of leaving a wealth of untapped potential in their wake.

"One of the most important things we can do to stem this flow is to show young people that it’s worth having high aspirations, that opportunities to earn a good living and progress in a career are out there and that they’ll be supported along the way to live, learn and earn".

Mr Stace said it is "vital that government, charities and employers across the UK invest more in developing young people’s skills and in providing opportunities for them to progress in fulfilling, sustainable careers".

"Together, we can provide the practical and emotional support required to bring a generation back from the brink of futility, start a nationwide debate about their stake in society and empower all the positive contributions they can make to it".

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