youngminds2Children and young people are growing up in an "unprecedented toxic climate" of stress and pressure, according to a new poll by charity YoungMinds.

Fear of failure, bullying, pressure to try and be thin and feeling depressed or anxious are some of the main causes of depression for the 2,000 youngsters aged 11 to 25 who were quizzed in a poll commissioned by the mental health charity.

The poll is part of a new campaign by YoungMinds, called YoungMinds Vs, which is launched today and has the backing of Labour leader Ed Miliband and singer Frankie Sandford of The Saturdays.

Miliband said: "Mental health is the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age, and young people’s mental health must be a top priority for Britain.

"YoungMinds’ survey exposes some of the pressures children are under in Britain today, from bullying and sexualisation to worries about job prospects. And when they feel depressed, too many young people are afraid to speak out or find a lack of support when they do. Good mental health is essential for children to thrive and succeed. That’s why we must ensure all young people have access to the help and support they need, when they need it."

Campaign led by young people
YoungMinds Vs will look to tackle the 5 key issues highlighted in the survey:
• More than half of children and young people believe they will be a failure if they don’t get good grades
• More than half of 11-14 year olds have viewed online pornography with 4 out of 10 of these saying it has affected their relationships with others of their age
• Half of children and young people have been bullied
• Four out of 10 11-14 year olds skip meals to stay thin
• One third of children and young people don’t know where to turn to get help when they feel depressed or anxious.

Pop star Sandford, who has spoken out about her own experiences with depression and anxiety in the past, praised the campaign's focus on the "voices of young people".

"I get to talk to a lot of young people and I know there are so many who are really suffering and struggling with life," she said.

"That’s why I think it’s great that the campaign is being led by young people – it’s all about their experiences and their voices are at the heart of it. That’s why this campaign is different from others and that’s why I support it."

“Mental health timebomb”
The campaign will be funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme and Comic Relief with the aim of "fighting for improvements in the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people".

Lucie Russell, campaign director at YoungMinds, concluded: "Every day we hear about the unprecedented toxic climate children and young people face in a 24/7 online culture where they can never switch off.

"Young people tell us they experience a continuous onslaught of stress at school, bullying, sexual pressures and bleak employment prospects. When this becomes too much for them they don’t know where to turn for help and when they do often the support just isn’t there for them.

"We are sitting on a mental health timebomb and that’s why we have launched YoungMinds Vs, which is creating a mass movement of children and young people campaigning online and in their communities for better mental health and emotional wellbeing."