With mental health highlighted as the key concern for young people in Hammersmith & Fulham in the ‘Growing Up in H&F’ report published by Young Hammersmith and Fulham Foundation, and mental health being the focus of the Hammersmith & Fulham Youth Council’s manifesto, HW H&F identified a need to find out how young people feel the pandemic has affected their mental health and wellbeing and their access to local mental health and support services.
This research project was carried out as a co-production between Healthwatch H&F and the H&F Youth Council and their coordinator Brenda Whinnett. A total of 324 young people in the borough filled in our online survey.
- There are three main ways that young people access information on mental health: through schools or colleges, family and friends, or social platforms. However, around 1 in 10 young people do not access information on mental health.
- Around 1 in 3 young people feel comfortable talking about mental health: because they have no mental health issues; they feel it is better to speak out for their own and other people’s benefit; or because they have supportive family and / or friends.
- 1 in 4 young people feel uncomfortable talking about mental health: because they feel their mental health is personal to them; they find it uncomfortable talking about their feelings especially with people they do not know; or they are worried about how people might react (i.e. not being taken seriously and being judged).
- More than 1 in 3 young people’s mental health worsened during the lockdowns: the main reasons were not being able to see friends and family; being confined indoors or at home; and the negative impact of online learning on education.
- Lockdowns also had positive impact on young people’s lives: 1 in 4 enjoyed having more free time to spend on hobbies and entertainment; and around 1 in 4 enjoyed spending more time with family.
- Around 1 in 2 young people said they feel they have changed in the last 12 months: 1 in 2 said they had experienced a positive change: they had become more mature, confident and / or independent. Around 1 in 4 had experienced a negative change: experiencing worsened mental health such as anxiety, stress or worry; feeling socially isolated; or feeling less happy in general.
- 2 in 3 have experienced a change in their relationships with other people: 1 in 5 have become distant from friends and / or family; 1 in 6 have become closer with family and / or friends; and 1 in 6 have experienced increase in their social interactions through social media or other forms of remote communication methods.
- 2 in 5 young people would not feel comfortable contacting services to get help and around 1 in 3 are not sure if they would feel comfortable.
- 2 in 5 have found information on how to get support with majority accessing it through school, while 1 in 3 have not found information on how to get help.
- 3 in 4 would know how to get support if needed with 1 in 3 going to someone in family or a close friend.
- 2 in 5 young people said they have had either negative or mixed experiences contacting someone for support: because they did not get the help they needed; they had difficulty accessing the support; they felt uncomfortable contacting someone; or they had experienced a negative response from those they had contacted for help.