International Youth Day is on August 12 every year, and the theme for 2014 was Youth and Mental Health. The UN created the #ShowYourSelfie campaign to raise awareness of the needs and rights of young people around the world, which encompasses the 1.8 billion young people worldwide who are under the age of 25. This campaign helped to provide young people with a voice as world leaders came together to meet in New York, N.Y. this last August. One of the issues discussed was mental health.
Mental health is often paired with stigmas and a large amount of discrimination on a global scale, hindering young people from receiving or even seeking the proper treatment.
Did you know that an average of 20 percent of adolescents around the world deal with a mental health problem? That is more than 280 million people. Many of these young people are unable or unwilling to seek and receive the needed treatment for their problem, which, in many cases, will create larger issues for them later in life as it affects their relationships and other aspects of their day-to-day life. Of the 280 million young people who are affected with a mental health disorder, only 20 percent or about 57.8 million will receive the needed treatment.
Young adults with mental health problems are faced with a wide range of barriers keeping them from seeking and receiving the necessary treatment in many cases. In some countries, this can be a result of a lack of investment put into providing mental health services, while in other countries the stigma attached to mental health disorders is bad enough to prevent a person from seeking help or causes the need for mental health services to be completely ignored.
For the U.S., the biggest barrier to youth in need of mental health services is a lack of adequate insurance coverage, stable living conditions and trained specialists, along with a lack in confidentiality legislation.
For those who are unable to find and receive the proper treatment for their mental health issue, they are often more at risk for poverty, violence and social exclusion. They may also be at a higher risk for ending up homeless or placed in the juvenile justice system. It has been found that at least 70 percent of the youth in the juvenile system have at least one mental health disorder with 55 percent having two or more disorders.
With the #ShowYourSelfie campaign, the hope was to give young people worldwide a voice to express the issues they were most concerned about and keep UN members focused on dealing with the barriers the that youth face internationally when it comes to mental health care. The hope is that discussions such as these will help improve mental health care globally with less of a stigma so those young people dealing with a mental health disorder can have a chance to lead a happier and healthier life.