AS a report out this week shows that more than 70% of young Valencians have suffered stress or anxiety, the regional health minister announces increased investment in children’s mental health.
The study of 650 young people, aged between 16 and 30, living in the Valencia region found that only 19% of young people would seek professional help if they were suffering from anxiety and only 11% said they would do so in stressful situations.
In contrast, 81% of young people in the Valencia Region say they have felt stress at some point; 73%, anxiety, and 46%, depression.
The study, Estado de la Salud Mental de la juventud valenciana, took a representative sample of the population according to factors such as age, gender, location and origin. The findings of the report were presented on radio Cadena Ser on Wednesday by the sociologists who carried out the study, president of the Consell Valencià de la Joventut, Cristina Martínez, together with Yaiza Pérez Alonso, doctor in social sciences and manager of Eixam Estudis Sociològics.
The sociologists said that the mental pathologies with the highest incidence, such as stress and anxiety, are those where there is the least willingness to ask for help. On the other hand, when they talk about, for example, post-traumatic stress or eating disorders, illnesses we have heard more about, the number of young people who would seek professional help exceeds 80%, even though their incidence is much lower.
Likewise, 67% of young people in Valencia consider that the pandemic has made mental health problems more visible, although 70% still think that it is a taboo subject.
Among the main causes of mental health problems among young people, uncertainty about the future stands out at 74%, followed by job instability 67%, economic problems 66%, social isolation 56% and difficulties in emancipation 51%.
The report found that predisposition to ask for help, especially from health professionals, increases with age. Meanwhile, 78.46% of young people in Valencia believe that the resources allocated to the mental health of young people are insufficient, while 69% think that primary care centres are not prepared to deal with their mental health problems. The study also warns about the worrying increase in suicidal behaviour and the ‘over-medicalisation’ of young people.
This week, the regional health department announced the setting up of three mental health hospitals for children and teenagers, one in each province; Castellón , Valencia and Alicante. The day hospitals will have 30 places and will be up and running by the end of the year.
The announcemnts were made by Miguel Mínguez, the new regional health minister, on Wednesday during his first address to Les Corts, the Valencian parliament, since taking on the role.
Mínguez explained that the emotional consequences of the pandemic have placed mental health at the centre-stage of the Valencia health system. He also said that places for mental health patients in general would be extended to a total of 256.
Regarding children and teenagers, he said the health and education departments were working together to improve coordination and detect mental health problems in schools, with teams developing protocols to improve capacity for reaction, detection and attention to problems children could be suffering from.
At the same time the Plan Ariadna, funded by European money, is being developed to work on employment initiatives for young people.