How do we go about improving mental health in the community and reducing suicide rates in the 15-29 age group?

depressed youth

(Alex Iby, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Natasha Sofia Dembrey, a final year Medical Student at the University of Nottingham in
the UK. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Globally suicide is the second most common cause of death amongst individuals between the ages of 15 and 29. (1). There were 6 507 registered suicides in the UK in 2018 and 75% of these deaths were men. (2) We are currently in a time of political and economic stability and the issue of mental health and suicide prevention isn’t getting the recognition that it deserves despite the fact that it is an important mental health issue.

A lot of very important resources for mental health and suicide prevention in the UK are provided by charity organisations such as the Samaritans. A recent study looking at the effectiveness of the Samaritans found 8.6% of people said they had called in during the process of suicide and 46.3% had reported feeling suicidal leading up to contact with the Samaritans. Immediately after the call the people who felt suicidal reported an immediate improvement in their symptoms as there was a median score of 7/10 with 1 being suicidal and 10 not suicidal. (3). This demonstrates the importance of such services and the impact that they can have on suicide prevention and we need to provide them with greater and wider recognition.

NICE guidelines say that primary care has an important role to play in helping to prevent self-harm and suicidality but I think it is important to consider that the age group most at risk (19-29) have minimal contact with primary care services. (4) The average number of GP appointments in one year for this age group is two and a half. (5) A person’s mental health can spiral out of control very rapidly and this is why more needs to be done to increase awareness and strengthen protective factors outside of the clinical setting to improve access to mental health services. As a society we need to focus on helping people to build positive support networks within schools, the workplace and small communities. The structure of our society has changed substantially over the last few decades with the introduction of social media, our increased travel and infinite career and lifestyle choices. This progress is positive on so many levels but it has also led to a reduced sense of community and solidarity. We need to make sure we are equipped to deal with these modern day challenges. Older generations may brand our generation as “snowflakes” but talking about about feelings and concerns is a vital component of building our personal skill sets to be able to cope and build resilience.

Education needs to be more focused around developing an ability to problem solve and set goals as studies have found these skills to be protective against suicidality (6) and school and universities need to improve their signposting to mental health services. It is also important to provide mental health services in a variety of formats such as one-to-one counselling, group sessions as well as online sessions. Overall we need to work towards increasing funding and signposting and reducing stigma.

Natasha Sofia Dembrey is a final year Medical Student at the University of Nottingham in
the UK and has a keen interest in Psychiatry as a career and in particular Old-Age Psychiatry.
She wants to change the current perception of Psychiatry in Medical School and amongst
Junior Doctors. She is determined to be a part of helping to change the conversation around
Mental Health.


  1. World Health Organisation. Suicide . 2019.
  2. B Manders, J Kaur. Suicides in the UK:2018. s.l. : Office for National Statistics, 2019.
  3. Callers’ experiences of contacting a national suicide prevention helpline: report of an online survey. Coveney CM, Pollock K, Armstrong S, & Moore J,. 6, 2012, Crisis, Vol. 33, pp. 313-324.
  4. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Self-harm in over 8s: short-term management and prevention of recurrence . s.l. : NICE UK, 2004.
  5. NHS Digital. Trends in consultation rates in General Practise 1995 to 2008: Analysis of the QResearch database. s.l. : The information centre for health and social care, 2009.
  6. NHS Bassetlaw. A strategy for the reduction and prevention of suicide in Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City 2009-2012. s.l. : Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County, 2009.

About the Author

Natasha Sofia Dembrey is a final year Medical Student at the University of Nottingham in
the UK and has a keen interest in Psychiatry as a career and in particular Old-Age Psychiatry. She wants to change the current perception of Psychiatry in Medical School and amongst Junior Doctors. She is determined to be a part of helping to change the conversation around Mental Health.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Constitution of the 9th legislature of the European Parliament

To solve big issues like climate change, we need to reframe our problems

Any doubt?

GSMA announces first speakers for Mobile 360 Series-Middle East and North Africa

A Sting Exclusive: “Accelerating Trade Digitalization in Times of the Pandemic”, written by the UN Under-Secretary-General and Head of ESCAP

NATO summit, Brussels, 11-12/07/2018

The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union will impact young people’s future the most

Guterres welcomes conduct of Afghan elections, commends ‘all who braved security concerns to uphold their right to vote’

Can I still send mail in the time of coronavirus?

Stable growth momentum in the OECD area

A brief history of vaccines and how they changed the world

Quality Internships: Towards a Toolkit for Employers

This company is breeding millions of insects in the heart of London

7 surprising and outrageous stats about gender inequality

Welfare of transported animals: MEPs urge EU states to do a better job

Financial support for workers affected by no-deal Brexit

EP leaders call for negotiations on upgraded Transparency Register to continue

Eight years after Fukushima, nuclear power is making a comeback

Black historical figures who shook the world, from a warrior queen to a Mexican president

Parliament approves key directive regulating professional qualifications

Russia won’t let Ukraine drift westwards in one piece

Elections in Europe: No risks for the EU, leaders readying to face Trump-Brexit

More needs to be done to bridge the digital gender divide

Technology and public healthcare: the basis to fight COVID-19

Forest fires: EU continues to mobilise assistance for Greece and other countries in region

Data Protection Regulation one year on: 73% of Europeans have heard of at least one of their rights

Too Young to Feel Hopeless – Mental Health of the Youth and the Effects of COVID-19

EU will have stronger powers in trade disputes

UNICEF calls on supply chain and transport industry to take COVID-19 vaccines to the world

Nairobi summit: Women’s empowerment a ‘game changer’ for sustainable development

Syria: At least seven children killed in yet another airstrike

Budget MEPs approve €104.2 m in EU aid to Greece, Spain, France and Portugal

This woman solved one of the biggest problems facing green energy

Withdrawal Agreement: Commission sends letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for breach of its obligations under the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland

‘You can and should do more’ to include people with disabilities, wheelchair-bound Syrian advocate tells Security Council in searing speech

3 dynamics shaping the future of security on the Korean peninsula

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Women boost work profits, saving biodiversity, UK loses Chagos Islands vote, Gaza funding, malaria-free in Argentina, Algeria

Madagascar: UN Secretary-General reaffirms support for electoral process

Chart of the day: This is how many animals we eat each year

New Zealand Prime Minister opens door to 4-day working week

Digital democracy: a Swiss view on digital trust

Libya: Heavy shelling and civilian deaths ‘blatant violation’ of international law – UN envoy

Coronavirus: Commission presents practical guidance to ensure continuous flow of goods across EU via green lanes

Further reforms in Sweden can drive growth, competitiveness and social cohesion

Plastic is a global problem. It’s also a global opportunity

‘Counter and reject’ leaders who seek to ‘exploit differences’ between us, urges Guterres at historic mosque in Cairo

Avocado: the ‘green gold’ causing environment havoc

A third of young people polled by UN, report being a victim of online bullying

As ride-hailing firms drive into the future, who is being left behind?

COVID-19 has been a setback for women. Gender-responsive policies can stem the losses

How India can become a leader in sustainable aviation fuel

‘Stealing’ food from hungry Yemenis ‘must stop immediately’, says UN agency

Why is scientific collaboration key? 4 experts explain

Women in Switzerland have gone on strike – this is why

Climate change hits the poor hardest. Mozambique’s cyclones prove it

COVID-19: Commission creates first ever rescEU stockpile of medical equipment

MEPs strengthen EU financial watchdogs

More than 90% of the world’s children are breathing toxic air

Chart of the day: These countries have seen the biggest falls in extreme poverty

Security: better access to data for border control and migration management

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: