A group of young people laughing together outside on a bench. Group includes two Black young women (one in a wheelchair), one Black young man, and a white young man.

Why politicians need to prioritise youth mental health

  • 4 min read
  • 28 June 2024

Topics mentioned: General Election

About: We asked our bloggers what their hopes are for the next General Election, the impact on their mental health and why politicians should listen to young people. Here's what they said.

A girl starting at the camera in the park.

Your voice has power: be heard this election.

Your next MP will be elected on 4 July. Whether or not you can vote, share your story and together we are going to make them listen.

Tell your new MP how it really is for young people.

Share your message
I’m optimistic for change, but also not optimistic that it will happen.

How are you feeling about the next General Election?

Sophie: I’m feeling hopeful that this General Election will lead to the end of years of insufficient attention and funding for youth mental health services. At the same time, I’m worried that this might not happen. My experience of elections as a young person has been one of empty promises, so I’ve learnt to be cautious about what I hope for.

Anonymous: The medical community is trying to listen to our voices and politicians aren’t hearing what we’re saying. They shouldn’t forget about us when make policy elsewhere. Immigration rules, climate policy, family law, pension security are young people’s concerns too. The causes of our distress are not solely internal, medical, biological or psychological.

Are you hopeful that there will be positive change for young people’s mental health?

Sophie: After watching the first leader’s debate, I’m anxious that mental health doesn’t appear to be a priority for party leaders. 270,000 children across Britain are anxiously waiting for mental health treatment, but references to youth mental health have been somewhat absent from party pledges.

Amy: As much as I’d like to be optimistic, the UK is facing so many challenges at the moment. This Government has shown that young people are not a priority. It feels like our struggles are not important to them and this creates a huge feeling of distrust.

Misbah: I'm not hopeful. Between the educational changes going to be implemented and the uneasiness of the Government now, it makes me fear for their future. It’s heavily affected not just our mental health, but every citizen’s.

A person thinking, sat on the sofa.

Katie: Unfortunately, some of the policies which have already been set out appear to neglect the rising cases of youth mental health difficulties. Most parties have no mention of young people in their political agendas. Young people are seemingly invisible, and the youth vote matters more than ever to ensure politicians support issues that matter to our generation. I do have hope that with the work of charities like YoungMinds and the thousands of voices who have called for change, young people’s mental health can become a key issue that politicians have no choice but to address. Political parties must face the fact that early intervention is most effective in supporting youth mental health, both to prevent young people becoming severely unwell and save services costs in the long run.

Why should young people vote?

Amanda: It’s so important to vote, especially as young people. We are the demographic with the lowest turnout rates. It may seem futile – especially if you’re not a massive fan of any of the political parties – but I think it’s still important to do so. Because if everyone has the mindset that their vote won’t make a difference (and then doesn’t vote), then change would never happen!

Amy: Having your say is one of your democratic human rights. By voting, you are showing up and making a difference, even if it doesn't always feel like it.

Sophie: Childhood and youth are two of the only states that have been experienced by every being on earth. That’s why I think youth voices represent a relatable and important experience. Without the influences of adulthood, youth voices are ambitious and inspire hopeful futures. That’s why they should be centred in any vision for the country.

Young people aren't represented enough, as many campaigns to lower the voting age show. Young people make up a large part of the country, and including young people would make elections and voting more democratic. After all, it’s us who will be affected in the long-term.

Why should politicians listen to young people?

Amy: One day, it will be our generation who are in positions of power and running the country. By depriving us of opportunities, and disregarding what we are going through, not only does it impact us now, but it will stay with us for our whole lives.

Misbah: So that they can make better decisions. I think young people are more radical, open and compassionate. Our perspectives can help politicians gain invaluable, knowledgeable and new insights into issues. And in doing so, we can create a more inclusive and open society, one step at a time.

A Black teenage boy wearing a hearing aid speaking to a white non-binary teenager. They are walking on the street outside a shop. Both people are smiling.

Amanda: Politicians should listen to young people because we are the experts in our own lives, and our lived experience/expertise is powerful. However, the power of our narratives must be harnessed effectively. It can’t just be about tokenistic exchanges and empty buzzwords. We want to see tangible actions in policymaking, ensuring young people are at the heart of the decision-making process. Young people should be co-creators throughout the entire policymaking process, from beginning to end. Nothing about us, without us. For successful co-creation, it’s crucial not to reinforce existing societal hierarchies. The Government should provide necessary support tailored to the specific needs of the young people involved.

The crisis in young people’s mental health does not occur in a vacuum. Young people are not ‘weak’. We are surviving and speaking up.

Where to get help

  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
  • Samaritans

    Whatever you're going through, you can contact the Samaritans for support. N.B. This is a listening service and does not offer advice or intervention.

    Opening times:
  • Youth Access

    Provides information about local counselling and advice services for young people aged 11-25.

    Put in your location and what you need help with into their 'Find help' search, and see what services are available in your area.

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