Mental health cases 'rose in young' after recession

Danielle Stevens
Danielle says struggling to find work made her mental health issues worse

There's been a big rise in the number of young people suffering from mental health problems since the recession, according to The Royal College of GPs.

It also says doctors are not being given the right training to help spot and deal with the problem.

GPs estimate that tens of thousands of 15 to 34-year-olds are suffering from depression, stress and anxiety.

They say that in the most serious cases, young people are self-harming and taking their own lives.

The Royal College of GPs says that some of the issues are on the increase because young people are struggling to cope with lack of money, jobs and opportunities.

Three months into a new job, 21-year-old Danielle Stevens from east London is happy, confident and enjoying life, but she says that wasn't the case a few years ago.

"I had no college to go to," she said. "Every college I did apply for let me down because of my exam results and I was out of education and work for just over a year."

Danielle had suffered mental health problems in the past but says struggling to find work during that time made them worse.

Depressed boy
There are no details about when more training for GPs will come into effect

"I stopped talking to a lot of my friends and I ended up self-harming a lot more," she said.

"It came to the point when my mum couldn't leave me in the house alone because she was scared, and that's when the suicidal thoughts came into it.

"I thought, 'I'm not worth nothing right now, I'm not doing nothing, no-one wants me here so I might as well end it right here.'"

The Royal College of GPs says one problem when treating people suffering from mental health disorders is a lack of any up-to-date research.

It says the last significant study was done 10 years ago.

Dr Jane Roberts, lead spokesperson on youth mental health issues at the Royal College of GPs, said: "We are increasingly linked to national bodies, such as the Association of Youth Mental Health, and the two of us work together across the country with youth organisations who are in a position to track data.

"We're all seeing more young people who, once they can reach the point of coming to see a GP, are seeing increased difficulties in dealing with the increased pressures that the economic situation is putting on people."

According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of 15 to 34-year-olds taking their own lives was around 1,600 in 2011, an average of more than four every day.

Norman Lamb, the minister in charge of mental health care in England, said: "It's a bit hit-and-miss as to whether you get a GP who really understands the issues.

"I am absolutely determined. I am on a mission to give mental health equality with physical health.

"I think in the past mental health has always been the poor relation and we've got to change that.

"In terms of its impact on people it's much more significant than many physical health problems."

There are no details about when the government plans to introduce more mental health training for GPs.

Dr Jane Roberts says the consequences of undiagnosed, untreated mental health problems can be serious.

"This [the symptoms of mental health issues] can go from withdrawing from normal social life to cutting, to self-harm - which may escalate into more harmful methods involving overdoses and serious cutting - to ultimately taking their own lives."

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