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A national survey of 18 to 24-year-olds by Mind and the Lucy Rayner Foundation reveals that more than half (55 per cent) say they find it difficult to talk about their feelings when they are down. Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) put on a smile and pretend they are okay when they are not and just less than half keep it a secret (48 per cent) or say they lie (49 per cent) when they are feeling down.
When 18 to 24-year-olds feel down fewer than a third (27 per cent) speak openly about their feelings, even though nearly half (47 per cent) said they feel better when they express their feelings to others.
Over two thirds (69 per cent) think there is a stigma around mental health, over half (54 per cent) fear people would judge them if they had a mental health problem and nearly half (45 per cent) fear people would label them as ‘crazy.’
The Lucy Rayner Foundation was set up to raise awareness of mental health problems in young people after Lucy Rayner took her own life in May 2012 aged just 22. Working with Mind, Lucy’s family funded a video, #inourownwords, where young people aged 18 to 25 talk about their mental health. It can be found at www.mind.org.uk/inourownwords.
Becky Rayner, said, ‘After my sister Lucy took her own life we were shocked. She was so bubbly and outgoing. It just wasn’t what you’d expect. There were no signs. None of us were clued up on mental health. We didn’t understand. How are you supposed to understand if no-one ever talks about it?
‘So now we think it is important to talk about our feelings and mental health, this was something Lucy found hard to do. You can’t look at someone and say they have mental health issues. You have to speak to them, ask about it to understand and if we do, hopefully a few more people might recognise their symptoms and feel brave enough to ask for help.’
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: ‘The years after you turn 18 are sometimes said to be the best of your life, but the reality for many young people just doesn’t match up to the expectation. It’s a time when you are expected to begin life as an adult, perhaps starting work or going to university and, while these life changes can be very exciting, they can also be difficult and unsettling.
"That so many young people seem to be struggling in silence is worrying, as we know that speaking out – especially to those close to you – can be the first step to seeking help and finding ways to cope with how you are feeling. We know through our work on the anti-stigma campaign Time to Change that often people don’t speak out because they worry about what others will think.
“We are privileged to be working with the Rayner family and we hope that #inourownwords, and the inspirational young people who have shared their experiences, will help show others that they aren’t alone and that it’s ok to speak up and ask for some help.”