There has been an increase in young people seeking help for mental health issues, according to new research released today. Relate, one of the largest providers of counselling for young people, have this week launched the Talk2Us campaign which aims to encourage young people, who are suffering from mental health problems, to talk about their concerns.
For Gypsy and Traveller communities, it is not always easy to talk about mental health, as often problems are kept strictly within the family and there are significant barriers to accessing health provision. Yet, mental health problems are significantly higher within these communities, with Gypsy's and Traveller's being twice as likely to suffer from depression, and three times as likely to suffer from anxiety. This is a particular issue for children and young people, who are more likely to suffer psychologically from forced evictions, poverty and discrimination.
Worryingly, the rate of suicide amongst the Gypsy and Traveller communities is higher than the national average, with research in Ireland stating that Gypsy's and Traveller's are three times as likely to commit suicide. I was just nine years old when my older brother took his own life, just two weeks after his seventeenth birthday. While the loss of Kyle was devastating, perhaps the hardest thing to comprehend was why he did it. This is the question that my family and I will never know the answer to, instead we are left with the 'what ifs'. What if we had noticed the signs? What if we had asked for help? What if he had just talked to us?
Gypsies and Traveller's face higher levels of bereavement, which is hardly surprising when life expectancy is 10 years lower than the national average. What is more, Gypsy and Traveller's are 20 times more likely to experience the death of a child, something which has directly affected my own family. Perhaps one of the greatest decisions I made was admitting I needed help to cope with bereavement. It took me eight years to pluck up the courage to talk about how I was feeling, but now I am better able to understand my emotions and my behaviour.
Admitting you are struggling can be one of the hardest things to do, but it can honestly save your life. I cannot begin to describe the pain of losing someone to suicide, and it is something I have had to deal with twice. My advice to young people who are struggling is to talk to someone, and to seek help from organisations, such as Relate. If at first you don't succeed, don't give up, keep trying. There is a huge range of services out there to help people, so keep going until you find the one that is right for you. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.
If you are a young person, you can get help and advice here.
If you are a parent, you can get help and advice here.
For information about Relate's Talk2Us campaign, click here.