Mental Health Awareness Week events focus on tackling anxiousness among young people

Anxiety is a common feeling that sometimes gets out of control

Worries around schoolwork, friendships and social media are the biggest cause of mental health problems for teenagers in our region, a Merseyside survey has shown.

The research carried out by Merseyside Youth Association on behalf of the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (MVRP) revealed that 63% of young people reported that anxiety was causing them concern, more than any other issue affecting their mental wellbeing. (1).

The survey also highlighted that only approximately 40% of young people would ask for help if they needed support with their mental health, and among those who had tried to access support, nearly 60% said it had not “been easy”.

That’s why, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week (15-19 May), Merseyside’s Police Commissioner and the MVRP are welcoming a plethora of pan-Merseyside events aimed at supporting young people, whilst also promoting the advice and help that’s available from a host of local organisations.

This includes:

  • Week-long online mental health sessions organised by the Cheshire and Merseyside Resilience Hub;
  • A packed programme of events, including yoga, at Bowring Park, Knowsley;
  • A free session full of insights, tips and techniques underpinned by neuroscience that will help teachers to better understand behaviour and support your pupils to thrive delivered by Liverpool Learning Partnership and Thrive at 3.30pm on Tuesday 16th May – book here;
  • Free online documentary screening for up to 500 people to view the Chasing Childhood documentary about the importance of free play and independence in childhood. The documentary can be viewed any time until May 23rd. To access it, people can register here. Use the code CCR-052;
  • Sessions on reducing anxiety and isolation by the Young Person’s Advisory Service (YPAS) LGBTQ+ group. For more info, email [email protected] or get in touch with @ypasliverpool and @gyroliverpool on Instagram;
  • Throughout the week, Kooth and Qwell will be running free webinars and sharing helpful content about a range of anxiety-related topics to support young people living on the Wirral. Find out more on their campaign webpage.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Anxiety is a normal emotion which we can all experience from time-to-time, but this survey shows concerns around day-to-day activities such as school, friendships and using social media, is the biggest factor affecting the mental wellbeing of young people across our region.

“It’s even more concerning that despite those concerns, a lot of young people wouldn’t have the confidence or information they need to seek support.

“That’s why, as we mark Mental Health Awareness Week, it’s vital we promote the services that young people can access and encourage them to reach out if they do have anxieties to prevent them from escalating into more serious issues which could lead to behaviour which might endanger themselves or others.”

Temporary Superintendent Georgie Garvey from the MVRP said: “The problem of anxiety was rated higher than any other mental health issue in Merseyside, outstripping even confidence and sleep issues.

“The majority of parents and carers also shared this same concern and could see how anxiety was impacting on their children’s lives. (2)

“This, and successive surveys, have shown that young people are perplexed as to who to turn to for support and sometimes feel hopeless. Our concern is that those anxieties can get out control.

“A fretful, anxious mindset can be the catalyst for defensive and aggressive behaviour and sadly, we know a significant proportion of people in prison have unaddressed mental health issues.

“Our goal must be to intervene early and provide support to prevent those anxieties from spiralling. If we can get young people to speak up about how they feel and seek help, then that is a huge step in the right direction.”

Throughout the week, the MVRP will be promoting Mental Health Awareness Week events and support through its Twitter account @Merseysidevrp, whilst also encouraging the community to open-up about anxiety.

How to cope with anxiety

As part of its commitment to young people’s mental health, the MVRP is also providing advice on how to cope with feelings of anxiety.

Young women’s health expert and friend of the organisation Dr Anita Sharma, provided the following five tips to assuage anxiousness: 

  1. Learn to breathe through your panic by using techniques pioneered in Mindfulness classes
  2. Get plenty of exercise, as this releases endorphins in the brain
  3. Eat and sleep properly with a balanced diet and at least six hours of shut-eye. Cut down on caffeine
  4. Keep a diary of panic attacks and other incidents, learn your triggers and how you responded last time
  5. Seek help from a professional such as a GP

Urgent help in Merseyside

For anyone needing urgent mental health crisis support, including young people, please find below the details of the mental health helplines operating across Merseyside:

  • Alder Hey Crisis Care Team – for children and young people in Liverpool and Sefton – 0808 196 3550
  • MerseyCare Mental Health Trust – for adult and ages 16+ in Liverpool, Sefton and Kirby – 0800 145 6570
  • North West Boroughs Healthcare Trust – for adults, children and young people in St Helens and Knowsley – 0800 051 1508
  • Cheshire and Wirral Partnership – for adults, children, and young people in Wirral – 0800 145 6485

Find out more about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week campaign by visiting

  1.  13-25-year-olds (
  2. Parents/Carers Survey Analysis (

About Merseyside's Violence Reduction Partnership

In total, 20 Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) have been established across England and Wales to help deliver the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy to tackle knife and gun crime and homicide.

Police and Crime Commissioners lead on commissioning these multi-agency units in their areas, bringing together strategic partners to deliver system-wide interventions to prevent and reduce crime.

In Merseyside, we renamed our unit to the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) because we believe the word ‘partnership’ reflects the way we work and approach this challenge.

The VRP brings together Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, local government, National Probation Service and the county’s Youth Offending Service, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key partners.