Supporting the health and wellbeing of young people

A recent campaign including almost half a million young people in the UK found health and wellbeing is their biggest concern.

A recent report by the UK Youth Parliament found health and wellbeing are the biggest concerns facing young people in the UK. The survey of almost half a million 11-18 year olds asked young people to choose the issues which matter to them most.

The campaign was delivered by the British Youth Council with support from UK Parliament and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Mental health is of growing concern to many young people. One in every six young people up to age 16 were identified as having a likely mental health problem in July 2021, up from one in nine in 2017. Coupled with this, 83% of young people with mental health needs agreed that the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse.

(Statistics from

If you factor in the pandemic with the pressures of learning, exams, home lives, the future, and issues going on in the wider world, there is a lot at play. The fact that young people are seeing an impact on their lives, mental health and wellbeing is unsurprising.

Osaro Otobo, Deputy Chair of the British Youth Council said of the report: “The health and wellbeing of young people has been an issue of real importance to young people in the UK. Young people really want to see action on ending child poverty, improving access to mental health support, and banning gay conversion therapy.”

To see young people rightly frustrated and distressed about these issues is a concern for us all. Young people should be able to feel hopeful and optimistic about their futures. But it is heartening to see young people aware of and vocal about the issues that matter most to them. Young people speaking up is a necessary force for progress.

Speaking up and stepping forward

In the work we do helping people to determine their next steps, if someone opens up about their problems, it often means we can better support them. Getting to grips with the barriers preventing someone from moving forward allows us to take practical steps to address and move past these barriers – whatever they are.

Where barriers around mental health and wellbeing exist, our Careers Advisers can refer a young person to the relevant services to help them. It may be that we support someone to speak to their GP or we connect them with a programme in their local area.

Connecting young people to the relevant services

When someone’s mental health or wellbeing is not in a good place, the priority must be addressing this before anything else.

Programmes such as Positive Minds offer support and connect young people with local mental health organisations. Advisers share techniques to help support wellbeing and take away some of the anxiety around applying for jobs and training. Positive Minds is part of the Works Better programme in Kirklees which helps people get back into work.

Positive Minds is a great example of how tackling issues around health and wellbeing as part of careers support can help people long term. If you take the time to listen to a young person’s experiences and perspective, you can begin to unpick and address the issues around low confidence, anxiety, and wellbeing that are troubling them.

Here are two stories of young people who overcame challenges around their mental health with the support of Positive Minds.

James’s story

Niamh’s story

Why the UK Youth Parliament report matters

It is eye-opening to see so many young people struggling with concerns around health and wellbeing, be it their own mental health or that of those around them. But the fact they are making their voices heard is positive. As Osaro Otobo, says: “It’s so fantastic to see half a million young people stand up and tell decision-makers what matters to them.”

If you’d like to find out more about our work with young people, get in touch with us on 01484 242000 or email

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