Worried about school or uni? Friends or family getting you down? Anxious about your health or finances? It’s been a tough 18 months for everyone so this year’s World Mental Health Day (#WMHD), which takes place on Sunday 10 October, is more important than ever.
In the US, for example, a study by not-for-profit organisation FAIR Health found that anxiety and depression among 13 to 22-year olds increased significantly in the spring of 2020. And in the UK, record numbers of children and young people (almost 200,000) sought access to NHS mental health services between April and June 2021, according to a report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Furthermore, this year’s #WMHD theme of ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’ reminds us all that race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, income and other factors can have an impact on our mental health and the kind of care we receive. As this article by the World Federation for Mental Health puts it, “Many people with a mental illness do not receive the treatment that they are entitled to and deserve and together with their families and carers continue to experience stigma and discrimination.”
Open and honest dialogue
UNICEF recently set out three opportunities for improving young people’s mental health – one of which is to ‘continue engaging young people, their caregivers and their communities in judgement-free conversations about mental health’. We support this wholeheartedly and, with more than 50 million users, we remain committed to encouraging open and honest dialogue about mental wellbeing on the Yubo platform.
“At a time when young people should have had the freedom to explore who they are, doing whatever it is that they enjoy and gaining skills for the future, their lives were put on hold for many uncertain months. As everyone around them also seemed super-stressed, it was even harder to be open about how they were feeling. For some, this led to increased feelings of anxiety, stress and low mood,” explains Dr Richard Graham, Consultant Psychiatrist, Clinical Director of Good Thinking and member of the Yubo safety board. “World Mental Health Day is an excellent opportunity to remind the Yubo community that it’s OK to express how you’re feeling and also feel it is your right to ask for support. Even taking part in Lives can be very helpful for sharing your thoughts and realising you’re not alone.”
Influencers and support organisations
To raise awareness of #WMHD and support members of the Yubo community on their journey to good mental wellbeing, we’re holding a series of events this month. These include talks with:
- AJ Clementine – an Aussie influencer and model who shares her transition on social media and promotes good mental health and body positivity
- Partnership for Young London – a UK association that aims to connect everyone who cares about young people in London
- Emily Rios – a US influencer who advocates for good mental health and body positivity
- Dora Kamau and Akeem Pierre – US influencers who will discuss mental health in the black American community
We’ll also be running a meditation session with a coach, a bedtime and relaxation story session with Shane Donohue and expanding our Ranting Lives. During these sessions, we invite young people to open up about any problems or concerns they have, vent their emotions and find others who will listen and provide much-needed support.
In addition, we’re teaming up with leading mental health charities and other organisations to run in-app #WMHD awareness campaigns in our main territories. By working with Stem4 (Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada), Partnership for Young London (UK), Friends (Sweden) and Reach Out (Australia) we’ll give our users access to mental health support and resources. These campaigns will be visible in our Swipes function throughout October.
Kindness and self-care
As the world gets back to some kind of stability after the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital that young people receive the support they deserve – so that they can thrive now and plan for the future. This might be through schools, healthcare services, charity helplines or wellbeing apps, such as Stem4. Social media companies like Yubo also play a crucial role by helping young people to connect with and support their peers. As a recent blog on the Parenting for a Digital Future website notes, the internet provides important communication and socialising opportunities for young people. It goes on to say, “In situations when children are struggling with mental difficulties, online communities can offer unique support as they provide a strong connection, non-judgmental understanding, and a feeling of belonging.”
“The Yubo team has built a social media platform without influencers, followers or likes and works hard to promote kindness, positivity and resilience,” comments Annie Mullins OBE, Safety Advisor to Yubo. “With young people turning to their digital spaces more and more, it’s vital that Yubo promotes national awareness days such as #WMHD but, more importantly, that self-care and supporting others is encouraged all year round. Thank you to everyone who is giving a talk and supporting our in-app wellbeing campaigns – we really appreciate it.”
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