Young People’s Voices: Mental Health Affects Us All

Continuing our new series of stories from our Young People’s Voices project – funded by Victorious Festival and supported by the University of Portsmouth – students at Havant and South Downs College, Jennifer Potter and Carys Manklow, explore the issues facing people with mental health conditions and look at the services available locally.

To improve the mental health and well being of the citizens of Portsmouth, we need to start making a difference.

Mental health affects us all. 

How we think and feel about ourselves and others, and how we cope with difficult situations, is as important as how we manage our lives. This is why improving mental health support for the local people remains one of our top priorities. 

Continuing stigma and discrimination mean that mental health problems are not openly talked about. However, illnesses linked to mental health take up 40% of GP consultations across the UK and research shows mental health issues are closely associated with poorer outcomes for employment, personal relationships and physical health. For example, life expectancy is reduced by 7 to 11 years in people with depression, 10 to 20 years in people with schizophrenia, and 15 years for people with substance misuse and alcohol problems.

The lack of solutions has meant that 10% of young people aged between 5-16 years have a diagnosable mental health problem.

Self-harm is when somebody damages or injures their body purposely. Some people who have done this in the past have said it can be a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress. Self-harm is more common than many people realise, especially among younger people. It’s estimated around 10% of young people self-harm at some point, but there are people of all ages that do. This figure is also likely to be an underestimate. Not everyone who suffers seeks help or recognises their own behaviour as self-harm.

Emergency hospital admissions for self-harm in Portsmouth are significantly higher than the English average. In 2013, 287.7 per 100,000 population hospital stays were reported in Portsmouth compared with the England average of 188 per 100,000 population. The majority of people who self-harm do not require hospital admission. People self-harm in many different ways and although people who self-harm are at greater risk of suicide than those who don’t, self-harm is about coping and staying alive.

Although there is not a lot of help for people struggling with mental health in Portsmouth, every little helps.

There are different organizations in Portsmouth that people can reach out to. For example: The Good Mental Health Cafe have a drop in every second Wednesday of the month, which includes taster workshops from other local organizations. Some people may argue that one day a month is not enough, and groups like this should receive increased funding to run more often. There is also an organization called Solent Mind working in partnership with Solent NHS Trust to provide the Portsmouth Support and Recovery Service, which offers a personalised range of support, advice and practical assistance to help people towards their recovery. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) offer support through the NHS, but parents report waiting times can be very long, as it is dependent on how ‘urgent’ someone’s needs are considered to be.

In order to get any sort of help, people who are struggling will need to reach out and be somewhat willing to accept help too. In this case, it is easier said than done. The majority of people suffering from mental health issues take months, even years to begin to reach out, so if you know someone who is struggling keep asking if they’re okay, keep asking to go on days out, keep checking up on them, because no one should suffer alone. 


Further information

Solent Mind – Advice on seeking urgent help with mental health, including helplines and signposting to services

Good Mental Health Cooperative, including information on the Portsmouth Good Mental Health Cafe

Solent Mind

Portsmouth Support and Recovery Service

Portsmouth Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)


The Young People’s Voices project aims to provide young people with a platform to share their opinions, report on topics that affect them and advance standards of literacy. We worked with students from St Edmunds School and Havant and South Downs College to investigate and write their own stories, in a variety of styles and mediums – from creative memoir and opinion pieces to their own investigations. All their work will be published on S&C throughout July, and all participants have the chance to enter their work into a competition to read their story on the Spoken Word Stage at the 2019 Victorious Festival. You will find all the Young People’s Voices stories here as we publish them.


This project is supported by the University of Portsmouth, with thanks to the teams in Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI). It was delivered by University of Portsmouth MSc and PhD researchers Maddie Wallace and Lauren Jones.