‘I’m grand’: Most young people deflect mental health conversations, survey finds

Nine in ten people aged 16-34 use terms such as ‘fine’ to shut down enquiries

Some 44 per cent of young people rarely or never talk about their mental health or well-being with friends and family. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA Wire

Some 44 per cent of young people rarely or never talk about their mental health or well-being with friends and family. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA Wire

 

Nine out of ten young people cover up mental struggles by deflecting conversations about it, while more than half find it difficult to talk about how they feel even though they want to, according to a new survey by a HSE-funded helpline.

The survey of 1,803 young people in Ireland aged 16-34, conducted by 50808, the free 24/7 anonymous text service, found that 90 per cent use terms such as “grand”, “fine”, “OK” or “alright” when asked how they’re feeling, despite feeling worse.

Specifically, half of all (54 per cent) young people use the phrase “I’m grand” to shut down enquiries about their well-being despite wanting or needing to talk about how they feel.

Some 44 per cent of young people surveyed rarely or never talk about their mental health or well-being with friends and family, while almost half are unlikely or very unlikely to reach out for support from others when they are feeling unhappy or stressed.

Half said they find it difficult to talk about how they feel even though they want to, while more than two thirds said they would feel better if they had more opportunities to talk about how they are feeling with the people in their lives.

On foot of the findings, 50808 is launching a campaign to empower young people with tips to have more honest and open conversations about their mental health.

Ian Power, chief executive of 50808, said: “You might be forgiven for thinking that all young people are open to talking about how we’re feeling, but this research shows that we are still not very comfortable talking about our mental health.

“At 50808, we know that talking about how we’re feeling is key to good mental health, but it’s really important we feel validated and heard when we do open up.

“This #GetPastGrand campaign aims to give everyone the tools and the confidence to get through the “I’m grand” deflection barrier and help their friends and family to open up and talk, and to provide that much needed validation of feelings and experiences.

“Texters to 50808 often tell us they don’t open up to friends or family because they don’t want to burden them, or they’re worried people will want to try to fix the problems instead of truly listening to what’s going on for them.”