The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Mental health is Norfolk young people’s biggest concern 

Mental health is the biggest concern of Norfolk’s young people says YMCA Norfolk CEO Tim Sweeting.

YMCA Norfolk has been a constant in the life of the county since 1856 because it has listened to the voices of each generation of Norfolk’s young people.

What they are saying today is clear - mental health is their biggest concern.

This chimes with what YMCAs are being told the world over, and as part of the world’s oldest and largest youth organisation, we hear from a lot of young people.

With the EDP publishing a special edition on August 15 focusing on the issue, mental health is finally talked about but there’s no time for complacency.

We believe it is vital to raise public awareness; but importantly, also give people tools to do something about it.

A campaign we are running to do just that is I AM WHOLE, the first ever joint YMCA and NHS campaign.

This was born after young people told us that mental health stigma creates barriers for many to ask for help.

Speaking to more than 2,000 11 to 24-year-olds we found that of those who experience mental health difficulties, more than one-third felt stigmatised as a result.

Worse even, of those who felt stigmatised, 70pc said it made them less willing to talk about their difficulties and 56pc said it made them less willing to seek help from a professional.

While IAMWHOLE started off as a local campaign in Brighton, it spread like wildfire reaching over 120 million people through media coverage proving that we need to continue the conversation.

Body image anxiety is another key focus. We know that young people have always cared about the way they look, but through constant bombardment of an idealised body type, this has sparked an obsession over appearance which can have dangerous effects on young people’s physical and mental health.

Our Be Real Campaign for body confidence, which we run in partnership with Dove, is tackling unhealthy body image and is working towards a society where health is more important than appearance.

Locally, we are partnering with schools and leadership organisation nelsonspirit, empowering young people to raise awareness amongst their peers and training them and their teachers to respond.

It’s comforting to see that mental health has taken centre stage recently, but there’s no time for complacency, so join us in getting the word out there.

Read more from the EDP’s You Are Not Alone special mental health edition.

Pictured above are YMCA Norfolk chief executive Tim Sweeting and mental health engagement worker Charlie Smith. They are both backing the #Iamwhole mental health campaign.

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