How peer research helps young women speak out on mental health

By Freya • 1 June 2021

In April we launched our Research Centre for Young Women’s Economic Justice. In this blog we hear from one of our Research Centre Associates, Freya. She shares what the research uncovered about young women and mental health and explains why peer research makes discussing difficult issues easier. 

As a Research Centre Associate, I interviewed a range of young women from many different backgrounds when researching for our report Picking Up the Pieces. One topic that repeatedly came up in these interviews was mental health. Poor mental health is a struggle many of us face every day and many are struggling alone. Many of us have problems that are undiagnosed, and some that are diagnosed need extra support. You are not alone.

What our research found

In our research we found so much out about the issues that women are facing and saw how much data is really missing on these issues. It helped us to see what is not covered in government statistics.

In our report we found that

  • Almost 3 in 5 young women said they were worried about their mental health
  • 17% of young women felt they have no one to turn to
  • Young women were more likely to say their mental health had become worse over the last 12 months, and young women with a disability or long-term health condition were more likely to report this

Connecting and understanding each other

The young women I interviewed were all so brave and empowering, they really opened up to me in order to talk about the challenges they are facing daily. By doing the interviews and being so honest they used their voices to help make change.

In the phone calls I could hear the struggle and pain in their voices of how hard it is to deal with mental health problems and the constant pressures they are faced with on a regular basis. I was honoured that they shared personal stories without personally knowing who I am. I know how hard it is myself to open up and for these young women to do that it is so brave and they all should be so proud!

I found it was effective for me as a young woman to interview other young women because we have similarities that help us to connect and understand each other. When we have similar ages, backgrounds and lived experiences we already have a bond before the interview. Speaking to someone who has similar experiences to you about difficult issues makes you feel less alone, because that person will understand you and can relate to the issues too.

The Research Centre is going to help these women’s voices be heard. Speaking to peer researchers like myself who have similar experiences, will help us get the message out about what issues really need to be solved.

If you are a woman aged 18 to 30 and living in England or Wales and you are looking for some support, you can access our free Work It Out service.  

Work It Out can help to unlock your potential by building skills, strong mental health and opening up opportunities for your future. 

Find out more about Work It Out