Delegates: Ms. Molay, Mr. O'Connor
78. Ms. Molay (Ireland), speaking as a youth delegate, said that the current economic system was harming young people’s mental health. In Ireland and around the world, children were raised believing that hard work would be rewarded and that they themselves were the future. Yet those dreams were being crushed as, around the world, more than one billion girls and young women did not have the skills needed to make their way in an increasingly digital world. Even those who were fortunate enough to have access to secondary and tertiary education often did not benefit from a system they had believed to be a meritocracy. Their social contributions, whether they acted as local community leaders or worked as interns without pay, were seen as “extracurricular activities” that had no value.
79. The current economic system did not allocate resources efficiently, but instead it created growing inequalities, destroyed the planet, wasted the potential of young people and kept them trapped in lives of constant scarcity. Young people wanted a fairer, greener world, but it was hard to stay confident about the future when the labour market failed to provide meaningful work, income security and a work-life balance. It was time to shift the focus away from economic growth and towards the pursuit of a good life for all. Societies must free themselves from the pressures of the 24/7 economy and concentrate on what mattered: people, the planet and communities.
80. Mr. O’Connor (Ireland), speaking as a youth delegate, said that communities in Ireland and around the world were suffering the serious impact of mental health issues. A suicide always had ripple effects in the community, touching the mental health of all. Figures from the World Health Organization indicated that someone committed suicide every 40 seconds, and a high proportion of those were young people between the ages of 10 and 29. However, despite the prevalence of mental health issues, young people continued to mask their struggles, largely because of to the stigma associated with mental health problems. When young people, who so often raised their voices in unison for other global issues, remained silent rather than speaking out about the fears and insecurities that were driving them to suicide, society had failed.
81. The United Nations should bolster efforts to eradicate both suicide and the stigmatization of mental health issues, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where 79 per cent of suicides occurred. Collaboration should be strengthened between organizations with a mental health mandate and grassroots initiatives, so that space and resources could be available for young people to express their innermost [*12*] thoughts, an opportunity that might not only improve their lives but perhaps save them.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/74/SR.3