The Ticking Time-Bomb that is Mental Health

12 May 2014

By Lauren E. White

Mental health issues are often misunderstood among adults, young people and children and it has been proven that many are ashamed or afraid to admit to having a mental health problem. As part of research discovering more about mental health, the charity YoungMinds has published statistics and facts online to help the public understand the urgent issue of mental health in the UK.

The launch of a recent project by the mental health charity YoungMinds called YoungMinds Vs has opened up the possibility that there is a ‘ticking time-bomb for teenage mental health’ due to the questionnaires and surveys the charity had young people fill out. Their Director of Campaigns, Lucie Russell, spoke about the young generation growing up in a ‘toxic climate’ because of the poor mental health education and knowledge in the UK. The poll by YoungMinds has called for a mass movement in campaigning for better mental health for children and young people, as mental health is just as important as physical health.

YoungMinds Vs has demonstrated that over half of children and young people believe they will be a failure if they don’t get good grades, indicating there is a lot of pressure resting on their shoulders – one of the reasons YoungMinds strives to help them think positive. The study also showed that a mind-blowing 850,000 children and teens aged 5 – 16 have a diagnosed mental health disorder and those are just the ones diagnosed. There are so many types of mental health issues; some are far more serious than others but they can all be treated to everyone’s specific needs and requirements if they are approached correctly.

One particular aspect of the YoundMinds recent statistics is that four out of ten 11 – 14 year-olds skip meals to ‘stay thin’; this can cause an eating disorder that is common in young people, anorexia nervosa, a possibly life-threatening eating disorder that is characterized by a complete aversion to eat. A disturbing statistic from the BBC’s 2013 eating disorder report finds that about 4,610 girls aged 15 – 19 develop a new eating disorder in the UK each year. Often the disorders come from the fear of becoming ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ and is particularly diagnosed in female teenagers as they feel they must be ‘pretty and skinny’ – the idea many a time comes from the stereo-typical media perception of girls in the magazines, a lot of which have been photo shopped to look the way they do.

Another serious mental health disorder is depression; severe, typically prolonged, feelings of despondency and dejection and is often a deep sadness that is seen as a ‘black hole’ and becomes a constant emotion that results in victims feeling numb and worthless which enforces a strong feeling of self-doubt. About 62,000 11 – 16 year-olds are seriously depressed and nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression. The frightening statistics really make it hit home how many people could be in need of help. Depression is a serious illness that can be treated with counselling and medication. Many of those who have recovered from the illness have spoken of how there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and that you can recover from this and any other mental health disorder if you seek help.

Mental health disorders are not something to be ashamed of, if you or a friend is in need of help, you can contact your GP for more information or the following:

–          ChildLine (under 18’s only): 0800 1111

–          Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90

–          SANE: 0845 767 8000




UK Mental Health Facts:

  • 1 in every 10 children aged between 5-16 in the UK suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder (that is around three children in every class).
  • Young people being admitted into hospital because of self-harming has risen to 68% over the last 10 years.
  • 1 in every 15 children/young people deliberately self-harm.
  • Over 8,000 children under the age of 10 suffer from severe depression.
  • The number of young people aged 15 and 16 with depression nearly doubled between the 1980’s and 2000’s.


Mental health myths and facts:

Myth: Mental health problems are very rare.

Fact: In any given year, 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health problem.


Myth: People with a mental health problem aren’t able to work.

Fact: We have probably all worked with someone who has experienced a mental health issue.


Myth: It’s easy for young people to talk to their friends about suffering from mental health.

Fact: Nearly three in four young people dread talking about their mental health issues with their friends because they are scared of their reactions and fear rejection.


Myth: People with mental illnesses are usually violent and unpredictable.

Fact: It is very unlikely people with a mental health problem would be violent.

Factual Research Yasmine White

This story was featured in our first print edition which is available now in schools and by contacting

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