Young People

Older children and young people may have passed beyond the risks posed in infancy, but become exposed to other issues as they move towards adulthood.  These include pressures to achieve academically, and learning to live independently.  This can be expressed in many ways, one of the most concerning of which is self-harm, as covered in the 2018 Annual Public Health Report on Emotional Health and Wellbeing.   For many young people in Somerset, growing up in a rural area is an important part of their identity, with both positive and negative aspects, as covered in the 2015 annual JSNA report on young people in the countryside.  Locally, information is collected every two years in the Somerset Schools Health and Wellbeing Survey.  Of particular concern are the health and development needs of children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND), discussed in detail in the Somerset SEND Needs Assessment 2022.


Growing up in a low income family can have multiple harmful implication for development.  This may be have effects through diet, risk of exposure to tobacco smoke or lack of access to green space and exercise.  Children from less deprived families do better at school than those in poor families, and the academic gap widens over the time at school.   Nationally, poverty is the strongest predictor of a child’s future life-chances.

Key indicator: Children in absolute low income families (under 16s)


Deliberate self-harm is complex indicator, but certainly a sign of poor mental health, especially exhibited by young adults.  Poorer mental health can be associated with adverse experiences in early life, and is more prevalent for those in poverty, vulnerable socio-economic situations and urban areas.  The statistics need to be interpreted with caution, as they rely on self-harm being identified and addressed; low numbers may actually suggest that the condition has not been adequately approached.

Maximizing school attendance, physical activity and a sense of belonging, reducing child poverty and increasing employment opportunities for young people – as well as boosting mental health literacy across the whole population and supporting community networks – can all help young adults at risk of worse mental health.

Key indicator: Hospital admissions as a result of self-harm (15-19 years)


Pupil absence

Attendance at school is important in simple educational terms, and level of education is an important wider determinant of health status, both directly and indirectly through its effect on income.  It is also an important part of social development.  Missing school, therefore, is an important indicator of healthy development.

Key indicator: Pupil absence


Substance Misuse

There is evidence to suggest that young people who use recreational drugs run the risk of damage to mental health including suicide, depression and disruptive behaviour disorders. Regular use of cannabis or other drugs may also lead to dependence. Among 10 to 15 year olds, an increased likelihood of drug use is linked to a range of adverse experiences and behaviour, including truancy, exclusion from school, homelessness, time in care, and serious or frequent offending.  Somerset has often had relatively high levels of hospital admissions for substance misuse.

Key indicator: Hospital admissions due to substance misuse (15-24 years)

Absence from training and employment

Young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) are at greater risk of a range of negative outcomes, including poor health, depression or early parenthood. The indicator is included to encourage services to work together to support young people, particularly the most vulnerable, to engage in education, training and work.

Key indicator: 16 to 17 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) or whose activity is not known


Next: Living well

Last reviewed: March 5, 2024 by Philip

Next review due: September 5, 2024

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