UN sends the right message on targeting youth mental health issues

National youth mental health foundation headspace says the United Nations' recognition that mental health is a serious issue confronting young people globally underlines the need for young Australians to seek help at the earliest possible opportunity.

Speaking on UN International Youth Day, which this year has adopted the theme 'Mental Health Matters' headspace Chief Executive Officer, Mr Chris Tanti, is urging Australians to make the mental health of young people a priority.

"International Youth Day is an important reminder that we need to continue to invest in the wellbeing of young people, not only to prevent long-term mental health problems, but to encourage and support their contribution to the current and future state of our planet and importantly to ensure as individuals they realise their full potential," he said.

"Seventy five per cent of mental health problems emerge before the age of 25 so it is vital that young people are given the support they need early."

Leading up to International Youth Day, headspace asked its online followers what they thought impacted on their mental health and wellbeing as well as the main challenges they face when trying to find and retain a job in the current period of high youth unemployment.

"More than half of our survey respondents said mental health problems can affect their ability to work. Interestingly, fewer than a quarter of those we surveyed said they faced physical challenges when working."

"There has been much talk about changes to Australia's welfare system, but little attention is being paid to addressing the mental health impacts that make it harder for young people to work. Employers, government and social agencies need to make every effort to support young people not only entering the workforce but retaining them in it."

"As the only organisation in the world offering a systematic approach to early intervention support for young people experiencing mental health issues, headspace knows that by providing the right level of support, we can make a positive difference to their lives," Mr Tanti said.

The survey revealed that getting enough sleep was viewed as the most important factor to support mental health and wellbeing with 64% of respondents choosing this option. Young people also said taking time out to relax (55%), involvement in hobbies (48%) and listening to music (43%), kept them in a healthy headspace.

According to the survey, loneliness (45%) and difficult family relationships (44%) were considered the most likely issues to negatively impact young people's mental health and wellbeing. Difficult family relationships were of particular concern to women (45% female respondents compared with 37% of males).

More than half (52%) of respondents under 18 listed pressure to do well at school as an issue that would impact their mental health and wellbeing. When it comes to employment, the key challenges faced by respondents were not having enough experience (77%), not many jobs out there (73%) and finding a job you like (71%).

headspace media contact: Carly Wright - 0413025385 cwright@headspace.org.au

Note to media:

All stories about youth mental health should include youth-specific help-seeking information:

For direct services and support go to headspace.org.au or call 1800 650 890.

About headspace

headspace provides services tailored to this age group (12 - 25 year olds), through its network of 67 centres and its online and telephone mental health support service eheadspace. The organisation has supported more than 120,000 young Australians dealing with personal issues like depression, anxiety and stress.

headspace was established and funded by the Commonwealth Government of Australia in 2006.