With the annual Gumboot Friday fundraising appeal this Friday, the youth-focused mental health charity I Am Hope, led by founder Mike King, is sharing important anonymised data today from its pioneering Gumboot Friday Platform.
This information, submitted in more than 4,150 requests for counselling, provides a sobering insight into the challenges facing our youth today.
Anxiety: The Leading Stressor
Gumboot Friday data reveals that anxiety is the primary stressor among young people in today’s society. It affects nearly everyone seeking help through the platform, with rates ranging from 69% for those dealing with anger or family issues to a staggering 89% for individuals struggling with eating disorders.
“While we were aware of the increasing prevalence of eating disorders, what truly surprised us was the age at which children are now grappling with body image,” says King.
The data illustrates that children as young as five years old are seeking help for body image and eating difficulties, and these numbers more than quadruple by the age of eight.
“This data underscores the critical importance of addressing anxiety with both urgency and empathy,” says I Am Hope chief executive, Troy Elliott.
The Power of Talk Therapy
While prescription drugs are increasingly used to treat anxiety, research indicates that counselling is significantly more effective. It is essential to provide free access to this option for Kiwi youth.
“Left untreated, anxiety can rapidly develop into severe mental health issues, placing more strain on our already stretched crisis teams. This, in turn, has led to an overreliance on medication as a kind of medicated waiting room,” says King.
Equal Challenges Across Economic and Ethnic Lines
A striking revelation from the data is that young people face an almost identical number of issues regardless of their economic or ethnic background, emphasising that mental health issues know no boundaries.
“Over the last few years, we have been led to believe that mental health has increasingly become a lower socio-economic, ethnic problem, and while there are some discrepancies overall, our data shows mental well-being affects everybody,” says King.
– Addiction often follows depression, suggesting its use as a coping mechanism for deeper emotional challenges.
– Females seek help for addiction at a higher rate than males.
– Stress, Trauma, Self-esteem and relationships are significant issues for young people 18-22
– Anxiety, depression, and stress are most prevalent among females.
– Self-esteem issues are reported less frequently by males than females.
– Identity and LGBTQIA+ issues are statistically significant.
“These statistics are a wake-up call and show the importance early intervention and awareness. Our young people are battling anxiety, depression, and stress at alarming rates, and it’s our collective responsibility to support them. Gumboot Friday plays a crucial role in providing the help they need,” King notes.
I Am Hope is committed to addressing these issues head-on by continuing to provide counselling for any young person 25 years-old and under and encourages everyone to join their mission in fostering a mentally healthier Aotearoa New Zealand.
Map with Gumboot Friday events around NZ: https://www.gumbootfriday.org.nz/2023 Website: www.gumbootfriday.org.nz
Media Contact Golnaz Bassam-Tabar
ABOUT GUMBOOT FRIDAY:
Gumboot Friday is an online platform that connects young people with counsellors or therapists all over New Zealand. All donations made to the Gumboot Friday Fund directly support kids in need wherever they are in New Zealand, for online or in-person sessions.
ABOUT I AM HOPE CHARITY:
Our charity started when Mike King visited Taipa Area School in the Far North where five kids had taken their lives within five months. Since 2015, we’ve spoken to over 350,000 kids from Bluff to Kaitaia. Our message to our kids is about the over active inner critic. One of the universal experiences as a human being is that sticky feeling that you are not good enough – you don’t deserve what you have, and you can never achieve what you want. Despite being a daily challenge for everyone, it is also one of the most isolating experiences we all face. Unfortunately, because we hide this aspect of ourselves, our tamariki feel alien, mentally ill, or simply not good enough. When we open the door to these hard conversations and highlight that we all struggle with this inner critic, we can show our tamariki that they are held and normal. I Am Hope’s job is to open the door and reduce the barriers to this kōrero through our own vulnerable stories, given with resources and learnings to uplift our tamariki into a better life and normalise the inner critic.
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