Today is World Mental Health Day and the theme for this year is Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World. World Mental Health Day aims to bring attention to the issues our young adults are facing in the world today and begin the conversation around what they need in order to grow up healthy, happy and resilient. To support World Mental Health Day, Drinkaware is highlighting the impact alcohol can have on a young person’s mental health and offer practical advice to help parents talk about this important issue.
The impact of alcohol on a young person’s mental health is significant and well-established. Young people who choose to drink alcohol to forget their problems or cope with tough times can often find the result is not what they had intended and in many cases, the problem they are trying to escape is magnified. Drinkaware research found that 1 in 5 Irish parents consider alcohol’s impact on mental health as the most important topic to include when talking about alcohol with their young people, compared to 1 in 10 in 2015.
In response to calls from parents for support in this area, Drinkaware has developed a booklet, ‘Young People, Alcohol and Mental Health’, to ensure parents can confidently discuss this issue. This booklet and other health promotion resources, including the Parent Pack, are available to order on our website.
Since its launch in April 2016, the Drinkaware Parents’ Campaign has reached over 2.5 million parents in Ireland through a dedicated parent website, social media, workshops and resources. Drinkaware continue to encourage parents to have an open conversation about alcohol with their children early and continue it often, and by doing so support their children in making informed decisions. Parents play a crucial role in delaying the age at which alcohol is introduced and it is important to have all the correct information to hand when having this important conversation.
Drinkaware Communications & Marketing Manager, Miriam Taber, said:
“As a parent it is important to understand all the facts, so that children are aware of the risks associated with drinking from a young age. Some of the most worrying effects of early alcohol use include the development of mental health problems like anxiety and depression. When a young person turns to alcohol as a coping strategy, it prevents them from seeking help for their issues and learning the resilience skills they need to identify and deal with issues problems in the future.
We know that parents are the single strongest influence on their children’s attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol and we also know that parents are actively seeking information to talk about mental health. Supports like our new booklet can and should help to empower parents to have this all-important conversation about alcohol early and continue it often.”