It is European Mental Health Week and now, more than ever, it is time to speak up to shape the future of the younger generation.
Mental Health Europe (MHE) is hosting the third edition of the European Mental Health Week on 9th-13th May 2022, with a focus on youth mental wellbeing. This year expresses the mantra: ‘speak up for mental health’ and highlights the importance of youth mental health care. The campaign offers young people and their supporters the opportunity to participate in shaping the future of youth mental health during Mental Health Week and beyond.
The importance of Mental Health Week
In Europe, young people are vulnerable when it comes to mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased a concerning number of mental health cases in young people, yet, the mental health burden has been a problem long before the pandemic.
One in five adolescents is at risk of experiencing a mental health problem in any given year.
Latest research and reports from many sources reveal that young people are among the groups more at risk of marginalisation and are impacted by socio-economic determinants of health and wellbeing. Furthermore, the pandemic put heightened pressure on young people’s mental health.
The incidence of mental health problems in individuals aged 15 and 24 has doubled in most European countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Young people are 30% to 80% more likely to experience depression, anxiety and loneliness than adults. Nine million adolescents (aged 10-19) experience problems with their mental health, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people in Europe (UNICEF). Mental Health Week is an important time to raise awareness of the shocking statistics coming from European countries. With half of the mental health problems affecting adults starting during adolescence, Mental Health Week is important to champion more access to services, empower young people and promote mental health.
Policy action is needed
Urgent and immediate policy action is needed and the team behind European Mental Health Week are advocating to shape a brighter future for all. The aim is to build healthy and resilient societies and Mental Health Europe is releasing a set of Policy Asks during Mental Health Week to mobilise people behind them and outline the way forward to support young people’s mental health.
Better systems must be available to support young people’s mental health. Policymakers at European and national levels are called upon to commit to youth mental health and build a brighter future for the individual and society.
Catherine Brogan, the President of Mental Health Europe, said: “In speaking up for the mental health of our young people, it is important that we promote connectivity with each other, listen to the voice of young people, instil a sense of hope into our conversations on mental health to support young people to access help early, as well as aim to influence policy to ensure that the personal narrative of our youth and their unique identity as human beings does not become a series of labels.”
Claudia Marinetti, the Director of Mental Health Europe, commented: “Social distancing, disruptions in education, low household income, poor early childhood care, insecurity about employment, our planet and our safety are among the many factors that place a strain on our mental wellbeing, and on that of young people in particular. If we want to make a positive change and improve youth mental health, we need to take measures now and make the right investments. We know what works and what has been shown not to work. Let’s act! Young people are our future, and their mental health should matter to all of us, including policymakers and decision-makers.”