A survey of 3,500 young people (11-18),  carried out for mental health campaign Time to Change, found that over a third of young people (34%) had done something to support or stick up for someone with a mental health problem.
The poll of 11-18 year olds across 23 secondary schools in England was carried out by research company, Ecorys, to gauge young people’s awareness, understanding and levels of empathy around mental health to support the work that Time to Change is doing in secondary schools. Young people who were there for someone struggling with a mental health problem, carried out the following supportive actions:
- Helped/ supported them (36%)
- Defended/ stood up for them (29%)
- Asked if they were ok/ talked to them (18%)
However, the survey also found that young people knew of students with a mental health problem who had been ‘treated as if pretending’ and ‘made fun of’ at school and online. The survey also highlighted the following negative behaviours towards students with mental health problems:
- Treated badly by other pupils (33%)
- Ignored (32%)
- Made fun of at school (31%)
- Made fun of online (21%)
The results highlight the need to equip young people with a better understanding of mental health, and how negative attitudes and behaviours can affect their peers. That’s why Time to Change has launched ‘In Your Corner’, a campaign, which encourages young people to be more open and supportive of others when it comes to mental health.
Time to Change has been working with young people (11-18) since 2011 in thousands of secondary schools across England to create a more open and supportive culture around mental health. As well as providing tailored lesson plans, young people with experience of mental health problems are trained and supported to share their stories in a school setting.
The campaign highlights that you don’t have to be an expert to be in your mate’s corner and has launched a series of short, high-impact films, each focusing on different steps that young people can take to be there for a friend or classmate struggling with their mental health. There are steps everyone can take if they think someone is struggling:
- If your mate’s stopped hanging out, reach out
- Withdrawing from friends could be a sign of a mental health problem. A good way to help? Send a text, snap or direct message
- Be in your mate’s corner.
Celine Bickerdike (20) from Wakefield, experienced anxiety and depression while at secondary school. She said.
“My first experience of being judged because of having a mental health problem was when a group of girls took my anti-depressants from my bag and started reading out the side effects in front of everyone, laughing. Not only was this humiliating but it made me feel completely isolated and alone. They gossiped and said I was attention seeking and would say things like, ‘you can’t be depressed because you’re so bubbly. Surely a doctor wouldn’t believe you.’
“If you’re worried that a friend or classmate’s acting differently or has stopped hanging out with you all together, reach out to them and ask if they’re ok and want to talk about it.”
Jo Loughran, Director at Time to Change, run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, said:
“It’s extremely encouraging that young people are sticking up for and supporting friends and classmates with mental health problems. It’s a strong indication that our work in schools is having the desired effect.
“However this research clearly shows that young people affected by mental health problems are still misunderstood. When young people are struggling with their mental health negative reactions from others can make things much harder and prevent them from doing everyday things that are part of teenage life, such as going out with friends and attending school.
“1 in 10 young people are living with a mental health problem so we need to make it more acceptable to talk openly so that young people feel able to ask for the support they need. We know that friendship groups are incredibly important in young people’s lives and that friends are in an ideal position to look out for each other’s mental health. Our In Your Corner campaign encourages young people to be there for each other if they’re struggling with their mental health and highlights simple things everyone can do that can make all the difference.”
The In Your Corner campaign launched in March and in the first month alone reached 5.12 million 11-18 year olds, nearly half of whom said they did something to help a mate as a result.
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Notes to Editor:
For more information please email Emma Warren, Senior Media Officer or call 075 8400 3703.
* For access to a range of free images to accompany mental health news stories please visit: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/getthepicture.
Time to Change
Time to Change is a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems. Our voice is stronger and louder thanks to funding by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. Our campaign is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and thousands more organisations have joined us to make change happen.