THE Isle of Wight Youth Trust will survey 5,000 young people about their mental health over the next eight weeks, as part of an ambitious project to understand the needs, experiences and views of young Islanders.

It will be the second Island youth mental health census following the first in 2017.

That census captured the views of more than 2,500 children and young people, a figure the trust hopes to double this year.

To reach their target, the trust has teamed up with schools and community groups across the Island to capture a snapshot of the issues young people are facing, and their perceptions of mental health.

Isle of Wight Youth Trust chief executive Mairead Healy said it was vital young people had their voices heard on issues affecting them.

"Here at the youth trust we feel strongly our young people should be setting the agenda for the services they can access," she said.

"With the Isle of Wight often being included with Hampshire in terms of data, finding information on the experiences of our young people can be difficult, so we want to hear directly from our young people.

"Through our census, we are asking young Islanders to share their experiences and help us make sure that we are delivering the best services possible.

“In the past 12 months, there has been a 26 per cent increase in the number of sessions attended at the youth trust, with more than 1,000 children and young people receiving support.

"However, we want to better understand the needs of all young people on the Island, including their experiences, perceptions and concerns about mental health.

"This time, we have refined the survey with input from our young people who helped us redesign the questions and ask about issues which were not covered in the original census.

"This includes specific questions on suicide, social media use and relationships with partners.

"We are particularly interested to see the responses to these questions, in giving insights into how our young people experience these issues on the Island.

"We’re excited to be visiting primary and secondary schools throughout May and June, as well as the Isle of Wight College and HTP, listening to young people and also taking the opportunity to break down the stigma around mental health.

"Everywhere we go we’ll be delivering a talk on mental health and the support the youth trust provides for young Islanders facing mental health problems or emotional difficulties.

"This is a community effort. Whilst we are reaching a lot of young people in schools, it is harder to reach those who aren’t currently attending school on the Island, and whose views might otherwise be overlooked.

"To include as many young people as possible, we are offering the chance to win one of two Amazon vouchers for anyone completing the census online and would encourage all under 25s to get involved.”

Young Islanders can anonymously complete the census online at www.iowyouthtrust.co.uk/census

The trust will release findings from the census later in the year.

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