A third of young people admit to feeling scared when they were prescribed mental health medication, while 26% say they felt frightened, a survey has found.
In addition, the survey for mental health charity YoungMinds found half of young people felt dissatisfied with the amount of information they received about side effects of the medication.
The survey was conducted to coincide with the launch of HeadMeds (www.headmeds.org.uk ) a new website about mental health medication for young people aged 13-25.
HeadMeds has been created by YoungMinds and funded by Comic Relief and the Nominet Trust as part of the Innovation Labs project, which has developed a range of digital projects to improve young people’s mental health.
Created in the style of the ‘Talk to Frank’ website, HeadMeds will provide young people with accessible and useful information about mental health medication during a time that is often confusing, frightening and isolating for them.
It will include information about potential side effects, when a young person should go and get help, and provide answers to some of the difficult questions that they may have around their medication but may feel uncomfortable asking their GP about, such as whether it will affect their sex life or can they drink with this medication?
The website has been developed by a range of pharmacology experts and young people. It has been endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the College of Mental Health Pharmacy.
Jo Brand, comedian and supporter of HeadMeds, said: “I know that having to take medication can be a strange and upsetting experience for many young people, I used to be a mental health nurse and I saw quite a few young people feeling bewildered when having to take on the wholly unfamiliar experience of taking medication and the side effects they sometimes experienced. Young people are under so much pressure these days and that’s causing more mental health problems and more medication use so it's brilliant that Headmeds is being launched.”
Sarah, a young Expert Reference Group member for Headmeds said: “Taking medication for mental health problems is not just about taking a pill: it can be an emotional and physical roller coaster too. It’s so important young people feel they are not alone, that somewhere, someone else has faced a similar battle, a similar whirl of emotion.
“They need to be given the facts: accurately, simply and in a way that makes sense. They need somewhere to go to understand the real impact on lifestyle - on the areas of life that are separate to mental health, but link so closely to it. The areas that no one talks about, but everyone knows exists. Headmeds does that and I am really proud to have been a part of making it happen.”
Lucie Russell, director of campaigns and media at YoungMinds said: “HeadMeds fills the information gap about mental health medication and thus it is an essential resource for all young people who need it. Knowledge is power and Headmeds will give young people so much more information about the bewildering world of medication so when they visit their GP or health professional they are armed with more resources.
“Having the ‘my story’ section of the site also means young people feel less alone at what often is a very isolating and frightening time for them as our survey shows. I hope everyone who works with young people spreads the word about HeadMeds so that it becomes the go to resource about mental health medication for young people.”