Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
Posted 10th May 2021
Today marks the launch of Mental Health Awareness Week, the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health. The week, which is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is in its 21st year and runs from 10-16 May.
Young people growing up in the care system will have undoubtedly experienced more childhood trauma than the majority of their peers – suffering possible abuse and neglect; the distressing and emotional upheaval of being placed in to care and, in all likelihood, a number of placements moves. And, when they leave the care system as a young adult, we appear to forget all the issues that brought them there in the first place.
At the age of 18 the world should be an exciting place full of opportunities to grasp hold of – whether it’s going to university, travelling, or embarking on a job for the first time. But sadly, when most young people in the care system reach adulthood, the reality is a world that often feels intimidating and overwhelming. They often find themselves alone and isolated, with no real family or close network to contact for support or guidance.
It’s not surprising therefore that two fifths of care leavers experience mental health problems in the first 12 months after moving out.
And, research from the Freedom of Information reveals some further shocking statistics, claiming that as many as 90 people who left care in England between the period of 2012 and 2016, tragically died in the years they would have turned 19, 20 or 21. Figures suggest that those leaving care make-up approximately 1% of the whole population, but up to 7% of all deaths in the UK – with the lack of assess to adequate physical and mental healthcare noted as a key reason.
This evidence is supported by a report published by Barnardo’s (2017) which looked at those leaving care – with 46% of children reviewed having mental health needs and up to 65% identified as not having enough support. The report also revealed that those supporting care leavers often do not have sufficient understanding of mental health and how to support young people, and the services that are available are far too inflexible to meet the specific needs of those leaving care.
It is clear that young people enter care under the most difficult circumstances, and this has a significant impact on their emotional health and wellbeing. Placement moves, school moves and changes in worker increase this, leaving young people ill-prepared and unsupported to move to independence.
We need to ensure that, together, we provide the very best opportunities for our young people moving from care into young adulthood, to overcome these challenges and to support them in having the very best start to a new, and successful, life.
This Mental Health Awareness Week, join the National House Project in celebrating the mental health benefits of being around nature in your local community... why not try to make a habit each day of connecting to the nature in your local area? Stop to listen to the birdsong, smell the freshly cut grass, take care of a house plant, notice any trees, flowers or animals nearby. Take a moment to appreciate these connections.