HEALTH

Lady Gaga Foundation Study Shows Kindness Has A Major Impact On Young People's Mental Health

28/07/2017 1:46 AM AEST | Updated 28/07/2017 1:46 AM AEST

We already know kindness makes the world go 'round, and a new study shows that it's also good for our mental health.

Today, Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation released "Kind Communities - A Bridge to Youth Mental Wellness," a survey of 3,000 American youth aged 15 to 24, which looked at how young people's mental wellness is affected by relationships, their environment, and the presence or absence of kindness in their communities.

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The study shows that young people — from high school to those entering the workforce — who describe their environment as kind are more likely to be mentally healthy. Per the results, 79 per cent of students who said their high school has a kind environment had the highest mental health scores, whereas 12 per cent of those with low mental health scores said their high school was kind.

Although young people believe mental health is a priority, they often lack knowledge of or access to resources to support their mental wellness. Fifty-seven per cent of study participants said their mental health is a "very important" priority and 51 per cent said their physical health is the same. Fifty-four per cent, however, said they never or rarely talk about their mental health.

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Additionally, 36 per cent of high school students said they don't have classes that focus on or discuss mental health, while 29 per cent of working youth said they aren't sure if their workplace offers a health insurance plan that covers mental healthcare.

The survey also reveals a disconnect between youth and parents, nothing that there's a need for better communication.

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According to the study, parents overestimate how likely their child is to talk to them about difficult situations and underestimate the role of stress in their children's lives.

"Born This Way Foundation hopes this survey will help to raise awareness about mental wellness and provide people with information that's practical to their own lives. But just as importantly, we hope it will be a tool to encourage conversations about a topic we still struggle to talk about," said Cynthia Germanotta, Co-Founder and President of Born This Way Foundation.

Although young people believe mental health is a priority, they often lack knowledge of or access to resources to support their mental wellness.

"These findings are a reminder that, while mental health may be a challenging and multifaceted issue, there are tangible actions we can all take to support our own mental wellness and the wellness of our young people, starting with building kinder communities."

In any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, but only one in three of these people — and as few as one in four children or youth — report seeking and receiving services and treatment.

The need for mental health services for youth is paramount, as the commission notes that up to 70 per cent of young adults living with mental health problems report that their symptoms started in childhood.

In any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness.

It also reports that children who have mental health problems are more likely to become adolescents and then adults with mental health problems and illnesses.

Significantly, black youth in Ontario are significantly under-represented in mental health and treatment services; Indigenous Ontario youth die by suicide about five to six times more often than non-Indigenous youth; and LGBTQ Ontario youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than heterosexual youth, reports Children's Mental Health Ontario.

See the full results of the study here.

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