By Eliza Collison
There are 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 Years in the World
August 12th marks International Youth Day 2014, this year’s theme being “Mental Health Matters.” A recent UN report defines youth development as the ongoing process in which all young people are engaged and invested. Through dynamic, national and international projects ICP commits itself to helping young people build competencies necessary for successful adolescence and adult life.
It is important to recognize this need to build skills early on and for likeminded youth organizations and schools to establish programs on a local and global scale to aid young peoples’ transition into adulthood. There is a strong connection between volunteering and better mental health, as people who volunteer can better manage their stress levels and feel a deeper connection to their communities . This is especially important in the context of young adults with mental health illnesses. According to a recent UN report, nearly one fifth of the global population consists of youth aged 14 to 24 years, with 85 to 90 per cent of this group living in developing or underdeveloped countries. In highly developed countries, it is estimated that about 5 per cent of the population have a serious mental illness. On a global level, it is estimated that approximately 20 per cent of youth experience a mental-health condition each year. Young people are at greater risk of a range of mental-health conditions as they transition from childhood to adulthood. A major obstacle to young adults with mental illness integrating into society is a societal stigma; 70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have at least 1 mental health condition and 55 percent have two or more. A solution to this issue can be incorporating these youth deeper into civic engagement activities. People who volunteer feel a deeper connection to their communities and other people. Through civic engagement youth not only gain social skills but cement participation in their communities-making them more willing to participate throughout their lives, whether it be through service, politics, or through advocacy.
For more information on International Youth Day, visit:
 Doing Good is Good for You: 2013 Health and Volunteering Study. United Health Group. Web. http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/~/media/UHG/PDF/2013/UNH-Health-Volunteering-Study.ashx
 Social Inclusion of Youth with Mental Health Conditions. Division for Social Policy and Development, United Nations. New York, 2013. Web. http://goo.gl/1C2Obn