The research also found that more than one in five young people seeking mental health support had been on a waiting list for more than six months
“It is deeply worrying that most young people still don’t ask for formal support for their mental health and that many feel too embarrassed. Despite years of anti-stigma campaigns, we still have a lot of work to do to remove the barriers that are still facing those that need help.” Laura Bunt, chief executive, YoungMinds
Two thirds of young people with mental health problems have not asked for formal support, new research has found.
The research, carried out by the charity YoungMinds, in association with Marks and Spencer, found that of the two-thirds who hadn’t asked for support, 22% said they didn’t try because they didn’t think they would receive it, while 33% felt too embarrassed.
Other reasons for not seeking support included waiting times being too long (11%), not being sure what help was available (21%) and their family not wanting them to seek support (6%).
Of those that did reach out for help, the research found that 87% went online for help and advice while waiting for formal support, but that nearly half (48%) didn’t find what they were looking for.
The research also found:
Outside education and work, the research also found that many young people who hadn’t accessed support were dropping out of sport, stopping exercise and hobbies, not seeing friends, and experiencing problems in relationships with families and partners.
The research shows that waiting for support can lead to worsening mental health, with 41% of those seeking support saying their mental health had got worse while they were waiting. More than 20% of young people have waited more than six months for formal support.
Laura Bunt, chief executive of YoungMinds, said: “It is deeply worrying that most young people still don’t ask for formal support for their mental health and that many feel too embarrassed. Despite years of anti-stigma campaigns, we still have a lot of work to do to remove the barriers that are still facing those that need help.”
She added: “Young people today are facing challenges unique to their generation, emerging from a pandemic into a cost of living crisis.”
Bunt said that the research “paints a picture of what happens to a young person when they are struggling, and worryingly reveals that many are still not seeking support. We know that when young people feel seen, heard and listened to, things can get better.”
Victoria McKenzie-Gould, corporate affairs director at M&S, said: “When we asked colleagues and customers what issues were front of their mind, their family’s mental health was top of the list. It’s a growing issue which touches us all, with around five children in every classroom struggling. The consequences of young people not getting help when they need it are clear, but there is also so much we can do to help young people get the support they need and prevent them reaching crisis point.”
As part of the new partnership, M&S is donating £1m to YoungMinds.
This research from YoungMinds confirms findings of other studies, which is that there are rising numbers of young people experiencing mental health problems. Even though there is now less stigma about mental illness, a substantial minority feel too embarrassed to seek formal support, while those who do seek support may face long waitlists. It’s particularly notable that the vast majority who actively reached out for help also looked online for support while they were waiting, but with only half finding what they were looking for. There is a big, unmet need for digital tools and online support for people in need of mental health help. At FCC, we are looking to find innovative ways to support people that are less reliant on medication, face-to-face therapy invasive treatments.