What matters to me in #GE2024: Mental health and wellbeing

Penelope, 18, shares what matters in this election 

What matters to me in #GE2024: Mental health and wellbeing

The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a universal mould on many young people’s wellbeing. The physical isolation for young people reinforced a mental isolation that has negatively impacted our wellbeing. It was really difficult for many young people to reintegrate back into school or into the community more widely at the end of the pandemic. 

That forced isolation at a crucial time in our development had impacts on our education, on how we socialise and communicate which affected us in so many ways. Two years after the pandemic ended, we are still seeing the very real impact that isolation had. With me, I’ve noticed changes in the wellbeing of my friends. The transition from lockdown increased their anxieties about social engagements. The impact is really clear to see with so many young people seeking mental health support (one million last year alone) and almost two million persistently absent from school. 

These statistics really should be enough to signify the urgency, priority and attention that needs to be placed on meeting the needs of young people when it comes to mental health. We are crying out for help to enable us to smoothly recover from our experience in Covid which may have exacerbated other experiences which have perpetuated mental health issues for my generation.  

As young people, we believe that mental health and wellbeing is an ever-present issue that that needs to be addressed by all the parties going ahead in the general election. 

I really believe that whoever becomes the next Prime Minister needs to take a serious look at the state of young people’s mental health in the UK. We need to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health and then ensure that there are appropriate services to address the needs of young people, no matter their state of wellbeing. 

At the moment access to mental health services can take years – many of us will be adults before we even get any mental health support. I am worried about the long-term impact this will have. As a matter of urgency, we need to see action to tackle the root causes of social anxieties, and the development of depression.

We need to get help so we can access the tools to contribute to awareness effectively to aid the removal of stigma around these conditions. 

The next government would be most efficient through direct protective policies for young people to compensate for the increase in mental burdens and difficulties young people face today in urgency to support our future. They need to consider a connectedness towards our demographic that promotes policies and services for a greater positive climate in various institutions, such as through education, to recognise that mental health is a universal experience, and that young people aren’t alone in these experiences. 

We need decision makers to acknowledge the spectrum of wellbeing and appreciate that there is not a single direct solution. We need to see a wide range of policies that reflect the individual experiences young people face. 

The issues faced from anxiety compared to OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), cannot be aided through a single-direct approach of policy, and should, rather, be supported through a broad range of organisations to benefit the individual needs of young people. 

We need to see a holistic approach from policy makers that helps to remove of the stereotypes within mental health, like the myth that boys don’t experience mental health issues in the same way. This would help prevent further discriminatory attitudes that can worsen these problems as they intensify over time. 

They need to listen to young people. Policy makers really need to use the knowledge and experiences young people have about their journeys with their mental health, with its changes through the global pandemic. 

I think we need to look at how existing wellbeing services have responded, and we need to allow young people the opportunities to directly influence services that are provided for young people. We need a multi-agency approach to ensure the best outcome is to support this country and it’s wellbeing. 

As we are the future, I would like to see helping young people with their mental health as a key priority. Listen to us and embrace youth engagement to make the changes that we need to see for everyone’s benefit.

Penelope is a guest contributor and writes from Manchester.

Header Image Credit: Anthony Tran


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