Examples of Some of the Most Common Mental Health Issues Affecting Youths in the UK

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Here in the UK, and indeed the rest of the world for that matter, unfortunately there seems to be a real stigma attached to mental health disorders, which is why so many people choose to suffer in silence.

Mental health issues are extremely common, especially in youths and youngsters, yet the sad thing is that the majority of those afflicted with these conditions would rather suffer in silence than admit to what is really going on with them, for fear of being ridiculed and feelings of shame and embarrassment.

Children and teens are constantly changing as they grow up, and whilst changes in body and physical characteristics is perfectly normal, sometimes it can make it difficult to diagnose whether or not a youngster is indeed suffering with a mental health issue.

Here are a few examples of some of the more common mental health disorders that affect youths in the UK, as well as some shocking statistics on mental health. It is also worth looking at which forms of help and resources are available to those in need.

Mental health in youth statistics – Before we take a look at some of the most common examples of mental health disorders in youth, here’s a look at a few startling statistics:

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  • Of the 20 million or so youths in the UK, between 10 and 20% of them will suffer with some form of mental illness
  • Suicide rates in youths aged 13 – 19 are twice as high as in those aged 20+
  • British male youths are three times more likely to die via suicide than women
  • Self-harm statistics in youths in UK are some of the highest in Europe
  • 9 out of 10 prisoners and young offenders suffer with some form of mental illness
  • One in ten children aged between 1 – 15 has some form of mental health disorder
  • Depression and severe anxiety are two of the most common mental health disorders in the UK

 

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Common mental health disorders affecting youths in the UK

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Bipolar disorder – Bipolar disorder is sometimes referred to as manic depression, and it is one of the most common mental health issues here in the UK, particularly in youths aged between 14  and 19.
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It is a health condition that affects a person’s mood, causing them to swing from one extreme to the other. For example, bipolar disorder suffers can go from feelings of extreme happiness and euphoria, which is known as mania, to feelings of severe depression, isolation, and fear, which can bring out suicidal tendencies, in a matter of seconds.
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The symptoms can vary depending on what kind of mood the person is in at that particular time, but unlike more common mood swings, extreme episodes of bipolar disorder can last for a number of weeks, even months.
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With sufferers of this condition, their moods are typically one or the other, I.E they either feel extremely happy and euphoric, or extremely depressed, isolated, and possibly suicidal. It is very common in youngsters but there are treatments available.
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Clinical depression – Feeling depressed is so much more than feeling sad or a bit unhappy for a few days, clinical depression can be debilitating and can render people bedridden for days, weeks, months, even years if they don’t receive the help they require.
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Depression is a very real condition with very real symptoms, and it is extremely common in youths in the UK, particularly in those aged 16 – 19.   It isn’t a sign of weakness, and it certainly isn’t something that sufferers should have to go through alone.
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Typical symptoms include feelings of unhappiness and sadness, losing interest in things you once enjoyed, constantly feeling tired, loss of appetite, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and headaches.   Some people become depressed due to tragic events in their lives, whilst others can develop it for no obvious reason at all.
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ADHD – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD is definitely far more common on youngsters than older individuals. In fact, around 4% of all youngsters will experience ADHD at somepoint in their lives, typically before they reach their teens.
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This condition can make it difficult for sufferers to focus and concentrate, it can make them hyperactive, and it can lead to impulsiveness, which often lands them in trouble. ADHD symptoms are more easily spotted in children aged between 6 and 12, though those in their teens can also suffer from it.
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The cause of the condition is unknown, though it has been found to be genetic.   Smoking, drug abuse, and alcohol consumption during pregnancy is considered a possible trigger, as is premature birth and low birth weight in babies. Anxiety disorders – We all experience anxiety at some point in our lives, some more than others, however statistics have revealed that anxiety disorders are extremely common in youths and young adults in the UK, aged between 16 and 20 on average.
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It is a feeling of being uneasy and nervous, yet anxiety can manifest itself in a number of different ways, leading to a number of different anxiety disorders.
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Some of the most common disorders affecting youth in the UK include social anxiety – a fear of social gatherings and situations, and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is often triggered by traumatic events that the patient has experienced in the past.
Even phobias such as a fear of spiders or other animals can be classed as anxiety disorders and can lead to panic attacks, heart palpitations, and even nervous breakdowns.
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Which treatments are available?

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As well as those listed above, there are many, many other forms of mental health illnesses that are especially prevalent in youths and young adults in the UK, but the thing to remember is that they can all be managed and treated in a number of different ways, including:

 

  • With prescribed medication
  • A change in diet
  • More exercise and healthy lifestyle choices
  • An improved sleeping pattern
  • Counselling
  • Online support groups and forums
  • Support groups
  • Speaking to your GP
  • The Samaritans and other similar organisations
  • Speaking to friends and family members about how you’re feeling
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Psychotherapy

 

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Some Useful References

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https://www.minded.org.uk/ http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/content/assets/PDF/publications/making_the_link.pdf?view=Standard http://www.rcgp.org.uk/clinical-and-research/clinical-resources/youth-mental-health.aspx http://www.youngminds.org.uk/

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Abul Hussain Approved Mental Health Practitioner London Borough of Tower Hamlets

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