Young people and mental health in a changing world: WMH Day message (2018)

Background page with Priority notice and over-layed text reading "Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World: A World Mental Health Day Message"

This is a re-published post, originally published in 2018. 


“Because you are young, you are torn between a world of hate and a world of dreams. So much to lose, so much to gain, so much to fight for, so much to change” (Unknown)

Youth and children together, including all those aged 24 years and younger, account for nearly 40 percent of the world's population.

In the height of modernity and advancement, it is still very hard to live in today’s world. As youth, we battle the effects of human rights violations, wars, and conflicts. We live on the internet, but our obstacles there include internet safety and cyber bullying. Suicide and substance abuse is quite high, and in the age of modern connection, we still feel alone. If we voice our true feelings, we are likely to be left out.

Youth is a stage at which most serious mental illnesses can occur, yet youth themselves are taught little to nothing about mental illness and well-being.

Here are some statistics, according to the World Health Organization:

· 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year.

· 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.

· 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

It is great that for Mental Health Day, the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) is focusing on Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World as a theme.

Today, mental health is becoming more acceptable through awareness – one of the key factors to breaking the stigma surrounding the concept of mental health and its importance.

According to the WHO, half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. From a lack of awareness about signs and symptoms, to long waiting lists of up to 10 years for proper addressing of mental issues and problems; or even the fact that only a shocking low percentage of research is done on mental health; highlights the obstacles for addressing mental health challenges in this changing world.

Public attitudes also play a large role on the recognition of the importance of mental health for both youth and everyone in general. Prevention begins with better understanding. Much can be done to help build mental resilience from an early age to help prevent mental distress and illness among adolescents and young adults, and to manage and recover from mental illness.

I believe that as youth, we need to play a key role towards mental health action and implementation in today’s changing world. As today’s future, it is up to us to ensure that we provide a productive atmosphere in which our needs for physical, mental, and social health are ensured, so that we may be resilient and fit enough to deal with the growing challenges in the modern age.

There is no health without mental health. The stigma cannot break mental health anymore – instead youth and our attempts to change viewpoints and misconception are breaking through. Today’s world has proved to us that nothing is perfect but striving to attain the real things that matter can get us there. We are stronger when we speak up and change is possible when we unite to address issues such as mental health. Peace, our ultimate destiny, is just behind the stepping stones that include acceptance and acknowledgement of the importance of mental health.

"We are equal. We both walk our two feet on the same earth. And we’re in this together." (Lady Gaga)

On this Mental Health Day, I urge you to take a minute to reflect on your mental health. More importantly, I ask you to ask about the mental health of others around you. You will be amazed how simply asking and speaking about each other’s feelings, emotions, or simply daily worries, helps create a more positive outlook.

Every day is a mental health day, and it is time to implement that.

Thank you.

WMHDay 2018