Young People’s Voices: The Silent Battle of Children and Young People

Continuing our new series of stories from our Young People’s Voices project – funded by Victorious Festival and supported by the University of Portsmouth – Sharon Ogundele, a pupil at St Edmund’s School, shares her views on mental health in young people, how young people are being ignored and how not enough is being done by the government to combat this issue.

‘I know how important it is to offer accessible mental health care to people on low incomes.’ Stephen Morgan, 2016.

There seems to now be less of a stigma with mental health, but young people who deal with it are being undermined or ‘swept under the carpet’ by the government and some schools.

Earlier this year, a Facebook post went viral showing that on April 9 only 11 MPs sat in the house of commons to debate mental health support, leading to outrage about the government’s lack of interest in children’s mental health. Although the post was clarified by FullFact, which pointed out that this was an an adjournment debate, ‘not usually attended by many MPs as they do not involve voting and occur at the end of the day’, the concerns felt by those sharing the post were not without merit. 

In June 2019, Dr Bernadka Dubicka, of the child and adolescent mental health faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, highlighted the impact on children and young people’s mental health of closing a thousand Sure Start centres over the past decade.

‘…[T]hose services are vital for supporting young people and young children,’ Dr Dubicka told the Independent, ‘We know there are many young children who really need our help and aren’t getting it, we have to invest in those services.’

This shows that not only are young people under appreciated and underrepresented, we are ignored. 

We are the ‘future’ of this world yet virtually nothing is being carried out to support our needs. Everyone is so lost in their own business in the present instead of working towards giving the next generations a better future. The rates of common mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression have increased rapidly from only 10 years ago, the development of technology exposes younger children to the toxicity of the world, the harsh words on social media cut deep, the subliminal self hatred that is fuelled by the comparison of oneself to others, that cuts deep.

Many of my close friends and family have been diagnosed with mental health illnesses and many people have overlooked that as we are ‘too young’ to have experienced life, we’re ‘too young’ to understand what it means to struggle. A mental health issue is an illness regardless of situation, circumstance or age. Anyone could be a victim of mental health issues and the sad thing is, other things are more important than the safety and security of our own health. Children and young people are silently fighting battles by themselves every single day, 24/7, 365 days a year.

We need support, real support, and that’s what matters to me.

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.