EMBARRASMENT and being afraid of what people think are the two main reasons young people do not seek help for mental health issues.

New research has revealed 26 per cent of young people aged 12-25 years would not tell anyone about a personal mental health issue.

The research was funded by an NHMRC Partnership Grant to the Centre for Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, and in partnership with headspace

Chief investigator professor Debra Rickwood said the study found 52 per cent of young people aged 12-25 years who experienced a mental health problem in the past 12 months said they would be embarrassed to discuss the problem with anyone, and 49 per cent said they would be afraid of what others thought.

To combat the stigma, headspace launched a new national awareness campaign to encourage people to talk more openly about mental health issues.

The statistics:

■ 26 per cent of young people aged 12-25 years would not tell anyone if they had a mental health problem

■ 22 per cent would be unlikely/very unlikely to discuss it with their family doctor

■ 52 per cent of young people aged 12-25 who said they had experienced a mental health problem in the past 12 months said they would be embarrassed to discuss the problem with anyone

■ 49 per cent would be afraid of what others thought

Headspace CEO Chris Tanti said stigma played a profound role in stopping youth from seeking help.

“Stigma can make it harder to ask for help and get support for mental health issues out of fear of being judged,” Mr Tanti said.

Headspace Redcliffe centre manager Bernadette Powell said getting to know people impacted by mental health issues helped change negative attitudes, reduce fear and social distance.

During the campaign, headspace has encouraged everyone to use #thebigstigma in all forms of social media to get the conversation going.

More information about the campaign and how to seek help is available at thebigstigma.com.au.

This article first appeared on ‘Redcliffe & Bayside Herald’ on 20 June 2016.

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