Young People and Mental Health

October 10 is World Mental Health Day (WMHDAY). Established in 1992 by the World Federation of Mental Health, WMHDAY has become recognised internationally as an important initiative to promote mental health awareness and advocacy.

Globally, mental disorders (including behaviours such as self-harm) are the top cause of premature death and disability in females and males aged 10 to 24 years. Mental disorders account for 18% of the total disability-adjusted life years (DALYs; the number of years of healthy life lost). [1]

The theme for WMHDAY 2018 is Young People and Mental Health, specifically chosen to stimulate discussion on the measures that are needed to prevent and treat mental and emotional disorders experienced by many of today’s 1.8 billion adolescents and young adults.

To support WMHDAY 2018, WFMH have released a report, Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.  The report provides an overview of the issues facing young people today, including:

  • Bullying, including cyberbullying
  • The effects of trauma on young people
  • Major mental illness in young people
  • Suicide and young people
  • Gender identity and mental wellbeing

For more information, visit the WFHM website. Stay connected with the 2018 WMHDAY campaign on Twitter – #WorldMentalHealthDay and Facebook.

There is an abundance of additional great information, organisations and advocates out there campaigning for the wellbeing of young people.

The Centre for Adolescent Health would like to acknowledge the contribution Dr Rohan Borschmann, Prof George Patton, and Dr Shilpa Aggarwal (Deakin University) have provided to the WFMH report. Together they have written a chapter on Self-harm and suicide in young people (pg. 40), below you will find an excerpt from Dr Rohan Borschmann.

Self-harm and suicide in young people

Self-harm and suicide in young people are major global public health problems. Whilst suicide results in the tragic loss of life of young people, self-harm (which includes behaviours such as cutting, overdosing, burning, and swallowing dangerous objects or substances) often has profound effects on the young people engaging in this behaviour, as well as their families, health services and the wider community. Self-harm is rare before puberty and becomes more common in early adolescence, with the first episode of self-harm typically occurring between the ages of 12 and 16. Around one-in-ten people report self-harming in their teens, with more girls than boys doing so. Self-harm is strongly associated with later suicide and for every young person who dies by suicide, approximately 30 acts of self-harm occur. The risk of both self-harm and suicide is higher amongst groups of vulnerable young people who experience discrimination, such as refugees and migrants, young Indigenous people, young LGBTIQ people, and those in contact with the youth justice system.

How can I help someone who has self-harmed or might be at risk of suicide?

Most young people who self-harm do not seek help beforehand; concerns about confidentiality and stigma have been reported by adolescents as barriers to seeking help for self-harm or suicidal ideation. Elements of providing support include letting the young person know that they are not alone and encouraging them to ask for professional help. Recent evidence from the UK tells us that a young person’s risk of suicide remains elevated for at least a decade after an emergency department presentation following self-harm. Therefore, self-harm during adolescence should be considered by friends, family members and health professionals as more than just a passing phase.

[1] Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). GBDCompareDataVisualization. Seattle, WA: IHME, University of Washington, 2016. Available from (Accessed 5 October 2018])


Nigeria, young people and mental health | The Sun

Teen self-harm – a marker of longer term mental health risks | by Aedt Nzdt



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