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Young people who seek mental health support forced to cope on their own

More than 78% of young people in the UK are told by adults to cope on their own and left without adequate support, a new study suggests.

Research conducted by child and adolescent mental health charity YoungMinds has exposed huge gaps in early support for young people who experience mental health problems.

Last month, the charity surveyed more than 7,000 people across the UK, all of whom were under 25 and had previously attempted to search for mental health support.

The participants were asked questions about which factors they believe have affected their mental health, who they are likely to turn to for support, how accessible they believe mental health support is in the UK and how confident they feel taking care of their mental health on their own.

77% of respondents said they were worried about doing well at school, 69% worried about how they looked and 62% cited issues at home.

46% of participants cited traumatic experiences as a significant factor affecting their mental health. 27% suggested spending too much time on social media was to blame, whilst 24% cited worries about what was in the news. Only 17% said that they could manage their mental health on their own.

When asked where they had turned to for help when waiting for mental health support, young people most commonly said friends, parents, school counsellors or going online. More than two thirds of the respondents said they were unable to find mental health support when they were first in need of it.

Emma Thomas, the charity's chief executive, said: "These results show how hard it can be for young people to get help when they first start to struggle - and we know that the impact of leaving it too late can be devastating."

YoungMinds published the findings of the study to coincide with the launch of its Act Early campaign, an initiative that is urging the government to adopt a new strategy when it comes to ensuring that young people are provided with mental health support as early as possible. YoungMinds has launched a petition for young people to demonstrate the urgency of this issue.

"We know that local support, through youth clubs or local charities, can be incredibly helpful - but this is something only a small number of young people are able to get. It's far better to make sure young people can get help early, rather than add to the numbers needing specialist support." Thomas said. "The government must also take action to address the factors that can affect young people's mental health - like academic pressure and how we support children who've lived through traumatic experiences."

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