Young People and Depression in 2014

by James Fawcett January 3, 2014 A

This story broke on the BBC this week and was an interesting read. The Princes Trust has provided some interesting studies/research journals over the last few years, often, well thought out and well constructed (also superb presentation!) They have demonstrated and highlighted the needs of young people or particular issues faced by young people and inadvertently the need for youth work!

This study the 6th Annual Youth Index discusses the mental health depression felt by many young people in the UK, the report suggests is a strong link (particularly emphasized and highly politicized by the media), that the primary reason for this depression is lack of employment, and employment opportunities.

It is all too easy to emphasize one issue (employment in this case) and state that this is the cause of a complex issue like depression. Undoubtedly this issue is important, as the evidence of the report suggests. But reasons are no doubt multiple and complex.  I hope that as youth workers, in the temptation to look at single issues and simplify problems, we can be honest about complexities. Indeed the richness of youth work is that it is a holistic response to whole people! It is important that we aim to hold to this holistic approach. Funding and politics can pressure youth workers to ‘focus’ work with ever more measurable targets. This can force us to focus on specific areas, the physical, or the emotional for example, but the youth worker that can find richness in the space of the whole, knowing all these factors – the political, the spiritual, the physical, the mental and more – are interlinked. The specific services are not unimportant or redundant, but they just need to be complimented by the generalists. Unashamed, we often need to become specialist at being generalist, whether that is in vogue or not.