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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Unemployment problems in Barrow ‘resulting in drug use rise’

YOUNG people in Barrow are experiencing mental health problems as a direct result of youth unemployment.

IMPACT A “distinct rise” has been reported in the number of younger people looking for support with mental health issues. Below, Karen Dobson, chief officer at Barrow-based Mind in Furness

And mental health support workers warn the unemployment problems are leading to an increased use of alcohol and drugs, as well as more young people displaying symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The findings, in a survey by The Prince’s Trust revealed today, mirror evidence gathered by workers at Mind in Furness, where staff report a “distinct rise” in the number of younger people looking for support with mental health issues.

The Prince’s Trust surveyed youngsters aged from 16 to 25 in the North West and drew a bleak picture from its results.

The charity found that 30 per cent of young people said they “always” or “often” feel down or depressed, with those unemployed long-term more likely to feel this way.

Of those surveyed, 17 per cent have had symptoms of mental illness due to being out of work. Resulting problems included suicidal thoughts, self-harm, panic attacks, depression and insomnia, as well as feelings of inferiority, anger issues, drinking heavily and taking drugs.

The research also found those who are long-term unemployed are twice as likely as their peers to feel like they have nothing to live for.

Karen Dobson, chief officer at Barrow-based Mind in Furness, said the report confirmed something that local workers had noticed in recent months.

Mrs Dobson went on: “We support people from 18 upwards and are finding the younger people accessing our services are experiencing a range of problems exacerbated by their environment and circumstances.

“This includes unemployment, low income, little or no training and qualifications and a distinct lack of hope and belief that things can improve – which all lead to issues of depression and anxiety. “Unemployment and a lack of opportunity leads to feelings of low self esteem and worthlessness and can create tensions within families, often leading to breakdowns in family relationships which can result in young people losing some of their support networks.

“This can lead to them either seeking company from others in the same circumstances where those issues become magnified or they become very isolated.

“Their low income means that many are often living in poor conditions in shared bedsits or even sofa surfing and this lack of stability also adds to the issues they are facing.

“Being active and contributing to society in some ways are incredibly important in overall wellbeing and when people have nothing to do and no purpose, they can become distressed and anxious without realising. As this group of young people grows they tend to believe this is the norm, that nothing will change and are less likely to seek help for their feelings of depression.

“We are concerned that this group tend to have poorer coping skills and are turning to alcohol and drugs (including legal highs) to cope with the difficult feelings that depression and anxiety bring.

“The frustration and distress often manifest through anger with the potential to lead to aggression and, in some cases, criminality which then makes employment seem an even more remote possibility. The demands placed on job seekers by the Department for Work and Pensions are quite difficult for this group of often unskilled young people to meet. They face criticism and benefit penalties that further enforce the feelings of worthlessness and unemployability.

“Quite often these younger people just need a chance and a first step up on the ladder, as the opportunities available are so limited these chances are few and far between and it is a natural response for young people to struggle.’’

Jonathan Townsend, northern regional director of The Prince’s Trust, said: “Unemployment is proven to cause devastating, long-lasting mental health problems among young people. Thousands wake up every day believing that life isn’t worth living, after struggling for years in the dole queue.”

The charity says the report is particularly important at a time when the region has seen a 175 per cent increase in the number of young people claiming benefits for more than sixth months since the beginning of the recession.

Mr Townsend added: “Here in the North West, 14,215 young people are facing long-term unemployment and there is a real danger that these young people will become hopeless, as well as jobless.’’

Have your say

Rachel & Mr Important, Looking at your comments, It shows what an up hill struggle it is going to be for sufferers of Mental Illness or those who have had to turn to substance abuse due in no doubt to the social climate & politics? Ignorance is never an excuse. If you have struggled with stress over Christmas or feel you may need a little advice? Try looking up, www.time-to-change.org.uk Please dont suffer in silence, try & share your worries with some one you can trust!

Posted by Stephen Turner on 4 January 2014 at 13:43

North West Evening MailNewsHundreds of apprenticeship places for BAE in Barrow
Last updated at 09:34, Thursday, 02 January 2014

Previous article............and they have been employing 100s of young people for the last 5 years. Im not saying this is for everyone but if a young person really wants to APPLY THEMSELVES there are opportunities to do that..........and it doesnt mean they have to work in the shipyard for ever.

I get how sometimes young people may not fully achieve their potencial and school but at some point the penny drops and there are opportunities to succed in life.........IF YOU WANT TO.

Posted by John on 4 January 2014 at 13:20

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