LIFE really is tough for young people at the moment. Anyone with a teenager of the right age will know how gruelling this year’s GCSE exams have been. The pressure on young people coming towards the end of their school years to get results is relentless.

Then, if they do well, they face the prospect of racking up huge debts at university - only to still find themselves struggling to find a proper job with decent, secure terms and conditions. And as for the prospect of ever owning their own home - well, for many, that must seem a distant dream.

On top of all this, there is the relentless peer pressure on social media to look good and to be seen saying and doing the right things. It is no wonder many young people are finding it hard to cope.

Worrying figures from Public Health England have revealed a jump in young people self-harming. And shockingly, in York the number of young self-harmers who end up needing hospital treatment is well above the national average: 631 in every 100,000 youngsters had to be admitted last year.

“Hospital beds are full of young people crying out for help,” said a spokesperson for the NSPCC.

It is hard not to conclude that the reason for the high number of young self-harmers in and around York may be related, at least in part, to the lack of mental health support in the area and the chaotic state of mental health care in York since Bootham Park Hospital closed suddenly in 2015. As the NSPCC says, the figures should serve as a wake-up call.

City of York Council plans to train ‘mental health champions’ at local secondary schools, which sounds like a good idea. But the problems go much deeper. We need to be taking a long, hard look at the way our whole society is developing. The high cost of a decent education, the lack of well-paid, secure and stable jobs and the seeming impossibility of ever owning home are creating a pressure-cooker environment of stress and uncertainty. Our young people deserve so much better.