Young people in Suffolk have lower self esteem and poorer mental health than the national average, says new report

A new report has found that 45 per cent of children in Suffolk have struggled with poor mental health in the last year.

Healthwatch Suffolk has today released the third in a series of reports focussing on the views of people aged 11 - 19 in the county.

They have found that subjective wellbeing of people in this age group in Suffolk is lower than the national average.

Almost 12,000 students from sixteen different secondary schools and colleges took part in the survey.

More than half of those struggling said they did not ask anyone for help when they needed it.

Those who did ask for help said that they found that services in Suffolk were difficult to access and that they felt as though they were being passed from pillar to post.

Hearing this from friends meant that other people struggling were put off talking to anyone when their mental health was sliding.

Others said that they felt embarrassed or worried about burdening other people.

The report found the most common answer to why young people wouldn't seek out support was the feeling that they should be able to deal with their problems alone.

Healthwatch Suffolk found that boys were less likely to ask for help than girls.

Fourteen per cent of those who took part said they had self-harmed and another 14 per cent refused to say.

The study also revealed that Suffolk's young people have lower self esteem than the national average with 22 per cent of boys and 58 per cent of girls worrying about their body image most or all of the time.

Children in care were twice as likely to say they had self harmed, with one in three looked after children admitting to injuring themselves in the past.

The number of mental health complaints among children with disabilities was also higher - 61 per cent of them said they had experienced poor mental health in the past year.

Young people from ethnic minority backgrounds were less likely to approach their parents for help.

Healthwatch Suffolk says it is the first time that differences between specific groups of young people had been explored.

Andy Yacoub, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Suffolk said:

"Sadly, we continue to be highly concerned about the levels of help available to children and young people in Suffolk who require mental health support. Lengthy waiting times, poor continuity of care and a subsequent feeling of being passed between services continue to be significant barriers for young people seeking help. This sentiment is reflected in many of their survey responses this year."

Andy Yacoub, Healthwatch Suffolk