The Mission Australia Youth Survey has been conducted each year for the last 21 years. It provides an opportunity for young people (age 15-19 years) to share what matters to them and give their perspectives on a range of issues. In 2022 there were 18,800 responses to the youth survey. Of those, 18.3% identified as currently living with a mental health condition. Other key findings in the 2022 survey are identified below.
The three most important issues in Australia today as identified by the young people completing the survey are as follows:
- The environment – This was identified as a top concern for 51% of young people, which is an increase of 13% from the previous year, with climate change being identified as one of the most concerning issues.
- Equity and discrimination – 27.1% of young people reported being treated unfairly or being discriminated against in the last year, most commonly due to gender, race/cultural background, and mental health.
- Mental health – 38.5% of young people identified being personally ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ concerned about mental health.
When asked about their biggest personal challenges in the past year, young people identified the following:
- School Challenges – This includes academic pressure, high workload, challenges with teachers, learning difficulties, and general school challenges.
- Mental Health challenges – This includes low mental health, stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or self-harm.
- Relationship challenges – This includes death, abuse, challenging relationships with family, friends or significant others.
Concerningly, close to 3/10 young people said nothing more could help, or they were unsure what could help with their challenges. This is further reflected in the statistics regarding mental health, where of the 53.4% of young people who identified needing support with their mental health at some time in their lives, 41% did not seek mental health support. The top barriers identified regarding accessing professional mental health support were: feeling stigma or shame, concerns about confidentiality, and not knowing where to go for help. This highlights the need for more work to be done as a community regarding promoting and providing support for young people in relation to mental health.
At Edmund Rice College we pride ourselves on the accepting and supportive culture regarding mental health which is promoted through pastoral lessons on mental health, participation in mental health initiatives such as RU OK Day, and involvement with mental health support services, such as Talk2mebro. We encourage our students to look out for themselves and each other and to seek help from staff and other trusted adults in their lives when they are struggling. Students have access to support from the Pastoral team, including their pastoral teachers, their pastoral care coordinators and the school counsellors. Students can access school counselling throughout their time at the College.
Sometimes young people experience mental health difficulties that significantly impact on their daily functioning which may require support from an external health professional, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. If parents/caregivers are concerned about a young person’s mental health they can seek support from their GP and a Mental Health Care Plan can be provided, which allows access to a psychologist with reimbursement from Medicare. School counsellors can continue to support students at school whilst working collaboratively with external professionals to ensure a student’s needs are met. We are happy to speak to parents who may have questions regarding this process.
Telephone and online services are also available, such as Lifeline, Kids Helpline, eHeadspace and Reachout.com, to provide information and advice regarding mental health issues, accessing treatment and other issues. Contact details of some of these services can be found in the student diary on page 46.