Oldham Youth Council explains why young people in the town have mental health issues

MENTAL health among young people in Oldham has become a growing issue during the pandemic, it has been reported, as children face worries such as falling behind in school due to being forced to miss lessons.

The borough’s youth council last week raised young people’s mental health in the council chamber, listing reasons why the problem has worsened since Covid-19 first had a major impact in the UK in early 2020.

Oldham Youth Mayor Tia Henderson and Greater Manchester Combined Authority Borough Youth Representative Aaliyah Ahmed said that in addition to fears of falling behind in their education, there are a ‘stigma’ in students asking for help as they may be concerned about what their friends and teachers think of them.

Tia said, “Even before the pandemic, young people let us know that mental health is one, if not the biggest issue they face today.”

Between 2015 and 2019, mental health was in the top five of every Make Your Mark poll, a UK-wide consultation for 11-18 year olds on topics young people want to change.

Aaliyah said: “After each of these results, we would research why he was getting so many votes.

“Young people would tell us it had to do with the stigma around mental health, the awareness of it, the support available, the wait times for that support and the quality of the support when it was received.

“Obviously in 2020 the pandemic hit and although it eased a bit at first because we didn’t have the anxiety to go to school, more stress and pressure was put on. on our mental health.”

A recent Make Your Mark poll revealed that mental health was the second most important issue with 1,250 out of 8,700 votes cast and more young people were polled to find out why this was the case.

Tia said: “The death of loved ones and the fear of catching the virus was a concern, but the majority of issues seemed to be related to isolation due to lockdowns and digital exclusion, loss of employment for parents or the young person themselves, which can lead to homelessness, and the stress, anxiety and pressure caused by remedial education.

Articles linked to an increase in domestic violence and divorces, impacting young people, have also been published.

The youth council also reported that the charity The Children’s Society found that one in six children aged five to 16 had a mental health problem and a 50 per cent increase over the past three years.

A total of 55% of 16-25 year olds have also spoken to their GP about mental health issues.

The same survey suggests that 75% of young people with mental health problems do not get ‘the help they need’ and 34% of those referred to NHS services are not accepted.

In July, an online mental health conference from Oldham Youth Services revealed that “the stigma around poor mental health was still there and there was a problem accessing support outside school,” Tia said.

“Conference attendees knew school was a place where they could access support, but didn’t think they could because of what their friends and teachers might think of them.

“Trust was also a major barrier, with young people not knowing whether teachers would talk to other school staff or their parents about their problems, and not wanting to access online support because they didn’t know the other person on the other end.”

Aaliyah added: “When you combine the number of young people struggling with their mental health with the fact that young people seem unlikely to access mental health centers in schools or colleges, due to stigma and trust issues , we believe that more needs to be done outside of the school setting. Young leaders acknowledged the government’s mental health support budget had risen from £4.5billion in 2016 to £10.5billion in 2021. But Aaliyah said it was understood that only 6.7% of the budget was to be spent on children’s mental health services with its tally that 50% of mental health problems begin before the age of 14.

Tia added that £40million has been set aside by the government to tackle the impact of Covid on the mental health of young people and £79million to help young people in the community to be used to increase the mental health support teams from 59 to 400, supporting 3 million children. .

But the youth council said there were 6.2 million children in the UK aged between 11 and 18, so the support would support less than half of them.

It was also estimated in a report that the 400 teams would only support 35% of the country, which they say is “not good enough”.

On behalf of the youth council, Tia asked the youth council to write to the government ‘to express the concerns of young people in Oldham and to demand an adequate share of the £79 million earmarked for mental health care to meet to the needs of our young people.

Oldham Council for Children and Young People’s Cabinet Member Cllr Eddie Moores praised the Youth Council for raising the issue.

Cllr Hazel Gloster added that the situation to help young people in schools is ‘absolutely desperate’ and trying to refer individuals is an ‘onerous task’ and ‘many don’t meet the strict criteria to get the support they need’ , and this is due to funding.

The motion was seconded was formally seconded by the board.

Responding to the debate and the figures, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘Children and young people should have access to appropriate mental health care when they need it and we are extending and transforming NHS services in England backed by an extra £2.3billion a year by 2024 to enable hundreds of thousands more children to access support.

“We recognize the impact the pandemic has had on everyone, especially children and young people who have faced disruption in their education.

“That’s why we’ve committed an additional £500m this year to support those most affected, including £79m to expand children’s mental health services.”