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Updated : August 1, 2022 3 mins read

How young people talk about depression

Updated : August 1, 2022 3 mins read

Article Depression

Depression can feel like a scary label for feeling low, down or numb, and it might also feel uncomfortable to talk about. Many associate depression with mental illness, feeling unsure about admitting they need help and/or a sense of being unable to cope. Although we are generally much more open about mental health following the Covid-19 pandemic and the very real wellbeing issues which were raised, there are still forms of stigma around mental health. For Armed Forces young people, there can be additional barriers as the military is often associated with effectiveness, strength and resolving a crisis. There may be a perception that families should just ‘get on with it’ or have a ‘stiff upper lip’ which may prevent young people talking about mental health in military communities.

It’s important to normalise talking about things like depression as it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a mental health illness or condition if you are depressed. We all have different moods at different types and will all experience some kind of depression (i.e. low mood) in response to difficult events. Our article What is depression? explains the science behind depression and when it might move into needing professional support to deal with.

Armed Forces young people don’t use the word depression but often discuss feeling low, lonely, sad, overwhelmed and scared to ask for help. One young person told us that;

“Your Minds Matter is important because I feel the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, from serving personnel and veterans of the Armed Forces, is something often overlooked and has only recently received acknowledgement”.

Young people tell us that the biggest thing which helps them is being able to talk to people who understand their experiences, either because they’re from a forces background or they have enough knowledge to understand forces life. Challenges often arise with civilian schools and friends when young people don’t want to have to explain the forces context, feel unable to or simply don’t have the energy. Sometimes it feels like they would have to do too much: first they have to explain the situation and then outline how they are feeling, which is a big ask of anyone who is struggling.

That’s why the Your Mind Matters project is so important to our young people as generic mental health and wellbeing support will not address their unique context, needs and challenges. Forms of peer support and building greater understanding in their communities have also been highlighted as critical support routes.

Young people have said:

“you want to know you’re not alone in the situation”
“sometimes you’re struggling but can’t explain but then you hear it and go, oh, that’s exactly it”
“before you found yourself explaining things. Now you’re just being yourself”

If you feel low, or need someone to talk to, please use the helplines below. Remember, you are not alone and your mind matters, so please reach out for support if you need it.

Helpline and crisis support


Prevention of youth suicide. Has helplines open for both young people and those worried about a young person at risk of suicide


Scotland’s Mental Health

Get Help now

If you are concerned about your mental health, or if you have found yourself feeling concerned about someone else, you can:

Call 111 – NHS 24

Call 116 123 – The Samaritans

Call 0800 83 85 87 – Breathing Space

Text: ‘YM’ to 85258 – Young Minds crisis chat

If you think you are in danger of hurting yourself or other people, you should call 999 or present to your local A&E department.