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Why is this course so important?

Mental health difficulties tend to start in childhood, not adulthood. Find out more about why this is the case.
© University of Reading. Figures taken from Mental Health Foundation.

Mental health difficulties tend to start in childhood, not adulthood.

Research tells us that around 75% of mental health difficulties like depression start before a child reaches their 18th birthday, and around half of all mental health problems in adulthood start before the age of 15. If we really want to help young people, it’s important not only to recognise these difficulties early on but to offer appropriate support, which can have a direct and positive influence.

**Depression affects a lot of young people.** In the UK, around 15% of children and young people will have experienced a clinically diagnosable depressive illness at some point before turning 18 (around 1 in 100 children at primary school and 1 in 33 young people in secondary school at a given time). **It’s likely that young people with depression won’t be accessing appropriate professional help.** Only around 25% of children and young people with depression receive appropriate treatment; some young people may never be identified as needing help and others may not get the type of help which is needed. Waiting times have increased and mental health services for children and young people are more stretched than ever. This can be very distressing for young people and very worrying for their parents. There is often confusion about what help might be needed and where and how this can be accessed. **The consequences of untreated depression for young people are significant.** Untreated mental health conditions such as depression are associated with poorer performance at school, disrupted family life, increased incidence of self-harm and distress which may continue into adult life. The earlier we can help young people with depression, the more likely they are to make a full recovery. **There is still a stigma around mental illness.** It’s important to talk about mental health generally and particularly with young people to reduce the stigma surrounding it. Young people can feel embarrassed about mental illness and link mental health difficulties with alienation and isolation. Even young people who aren’t experiencing mental health difficulties can feel like their emotions are out of control at times; depression can result in a sense of hopelessness and shame and this can prevent young people from talking about their difficulties and seeking help. We're extremely keen to develop this programme to increase public knowledge around depression in young people, and we wanted to provide a resource which would be helpful to both parents and professionals. We hope that by offering information about the condition itself and outlining practical ways to offer support, that young people with depression will feel more understood and better supported. **Some of the factors which may influence a young person’s depression may be outside your control. It’s important to remember that there are many steps you can take to promote positive mental health and make a real difference.**

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Do you have any other thoughts about why this course is so important? Or want to reflect on some of the things we have highlighted above? Share your thoughts below.

© University of Reading. Figures taken from Mental Health Foundation.
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Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People

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