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Youth Mental Health Day: Young people prioritise future health and happiness over money and fame

mental health spelled out with wooden letters

Youth Mental Health Day, 7th September – #StrideForward

Teenage rock band Chapter 13 (@chapter13music), Britain’s Got Talent series 13 ‘golden buzzer’ act, support stem4’s Youth Mental Health Day with their debut single ‘Harder to Pretend’, with a strong message about mental health

Most young people aged between 13 and 21 “just want to be healthy and happy” (70%) and “have a stable job” (56%), over earning lots of money (25%), new survey figures by youth mental health charity stem4 to mark Youth Mental Health Day (7th September) has found.   But mental health difficulties, combined with lack of confidence, and fear of failure are a barrier to achieving their ambitions.

Whether triggered by bullying or bereavement, family difficulties or friendship issues, six in ten (63%) young people today say they struggle with their mental health. And of the 29% of young people who are currently experiencing mental health difficulties and who have had courage to ask for help, only 13% are receiving treatment.   

Of the 1,000 young people surveyed in the UK, many say months of restrictions have left them less able to openly talk about problems they may be experiencing.  Just 4% of boys / young men and 15% of girls / young women, say they have talked about the things that upset them over the last 12 months. 

Last year, the charity stem4, which supports young people with problems such as depression, anxiety and self-harm, launched the first National Youth Mental Health Day. The theme of this year’s event, taking place on 7th September, is #StrideForward, with a focus on building back confidence and positive mental health following the disruption caused by the pandemic.

As young people return to school, college, university and work this Autumn, the majority (80%) now say they want to stride forward positively with their life.  Their most common aspirations for the future are “just being healthy and happy” (70%), and “having a stable job” (56%).   Meanwhile 27% say they want “to make a lot of money”, 25% want to “do something outside of their comfort zone to grow stronger, such as public speaking or running a marathon”, and 24% want “to make a positive difference in the world by working against racism, inequality and climate change.  Just 4% of young people aspire to be a politician or be famous.

But nearly 18 months of lockdowns and restrictions has left four in ten (42%) young people lacking confidence, and fear of failure is a barrier to achieving their ambitions.    27% say they feel anxious, fearful, or worried, 18% say they are sad or low in mood, while 15% say they are lonely and 13% feel overwhelmed.  

To mark Youth Mental Health Day 2021, stem4 is providing interested UK schools, colleges and universities with information packs filled with ideas and activities to help young people rebuild their confidence, reinstate their ambitions, and go on to achieve their future goals. They will be encouraged to reflect on their feelings about the last year, express their future goals creatively (for example through music, art, or creative writing), and then take positive strides forward. Today, 7th September, young people and adults alike are invited to share their #StrideForward goals and messages on social media – joining in to form a collective voice for positive change.

 Dr Nihara Krause says: 

“Even before the pandemic, many young people were feeling vulnerable and uncertain about their future. The impact of disruptions such as the cancellation of exams, home schooling, isolation, and the difficulty of getting work has often been negatively impactful on their mental health.  But as this survey shows, young people are cautiously optimistic about the future.  It’s now important that we give them the chance to express how they’ve felt over the past year-and-a-half and that we equip them with the resilience they need to move forward confidently and positively.”

Boy Band Chapter 13, who first appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2019, are this year supporting Youth Mental Health Day.  Their debut single ‘Harder to Pretend’, with a strong message about mental health, is being used as part of the campaign and will be released on all platforms on 10th September.  

Jake, Tom, Noah and Jacob, who are now aged between 16 and 18, commented on why it’s important to talk to friends about mental health difficulties:

“We all have our own stories and struggle with mental health and that can mean we find ourselves in dark places at times. But we’ve learnt to reach out and to accept each other for exactly who we are and from our experience, your friends are the best to confide in. Families are great and they love us to bits but friends just get it. They understand you and accept you in a way that nobody else really can and that’s why they’re wicked to talk to. The fear of what they might think of you is nothing compared to the support you will get from opening up to them. Just don’t keep it to yourself because it eats away at you.  Honestly, we’ve been there, and it never goes well when you bottle things up. Write a song about it, or find your own way of communicating it, but just find it in yourself to express it in some way and you’ve got a much better chance of overcoming it.”

About the research

*Survey of 1032 regionally representative young people (between the ages of 13 and 21) carried out by Survey Goo between 26th and 29th July 2021 in the UK.

** Survey of regionally representative teachers across the UK carried out by Survey Goo between 1st and 4th December 2020. 

Are you currently experiencing mental health difficulties, such as anxiety, low mood, negative and self-harming behaviours, and have you been able to ask for help?



Northern Ireland




No, I am not experiencing any mental health difficulties







Yes, I am experiencing mental health difficulties.  I’ve not spoken to anyone.







Yes, I am experiencing mental health difficulties.  I’ve spoken to someone but I’ve not received any help.







Yes, I am experiencing mental health difficulties.  I’ve spoken to someone and I am receiving help or treatment.







When thinking about your future aspirations and goals, what achievements would make you most proud and happy?


Just being healthy and happy


Having a stable job


Making lots of money, e.g., becoming a millionaire


Doing something out of my comfort zone to grow stronger e.g., public speaking in front of a big crowd, or running a marathon


Campaigning to make a positive difference in the world e g working against racism, inequality or climate change


Having a rewarding career giving back to my community e.g., teacher, doctor, nurse, carer, charity, priest etc


Being an entrepreneur who starts a successful business


Becoming a performer/creator in the arts, music and literature


Becoming an explorer, adventurer, traveller, or pilot


Becoming a professional social media influencer, creator or gamer


Becoming an innovator/working in science or technology


Becoming a politician. Working in government/politics


Achieving fame and being an A-List celebrity


Serving my country e g   Army, Navy, Airforce, or Police


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