THIS week’s Mental Health Awareness Week has seen a welcome focus on issues surrounding mental health. In Salisbury, Spire FM was one of hundreds of commercial and BBC radio stations to broadcast a joint one-minute broadcast on Tuesday. And this Friday and Saturday, the Chapel plays host to local playwright Jayne Woodhouse’s new production, Owls, which is also based around a mental health theme.

Woodhouse’s play focuses on Anna, a young woman with mental health issues, who is found by Steve, a security guard at a multi-storey car park, as she considers taking her life. For Steve to talk her down, he needs to confront problems and difficulties of his own. The play started out in a shorter form at a scratch night in London, but Woodhouse has returned to Salisbury to premiere the full-length version.

It’s a production that feels well-timed. Mental health issues, particularly among the young, is something that has grown substantially in recent years. Last autumn, a government-funded study of 10,000 teenagers suggested that one in four girls are considered clinically depressed by the time they are fourteen. The report highlighted ‘worryingly high rates of depression’ and ‘increasing mental health difficulties faced by girls compared to previous generations’.

Where does this rise come from? A recent survey in the US of 500,000 teenagers pointed to a possible correlation between the rise in the suicide rate and the growth of smartphones: before 2007, the launch of the first iPhone, the US suicide rate had been in consistent decline; between 2007 and 2015, suicide rates among 15-19 year olds increased by 31 per cent for boys and 50 per cent for girls.

The pressures of social media on the young undoubtedly is a factor here. But more traditional media continues to play its part as well. The recent death of singer Avicii, for example, saw the Daily Mail and others ignoring press guidelines on reporting suicide by printing lurid headlines about how he took his life.

This Friday, too, sees the start of the second series of Netflix’s teenage suicide drama 13 Reasons Why. The first series was heavily criticised by mental health charities for sensationalising and romanticising suicide. To launch the second series at the start of exam season – a time when teenage suicide rates usually rise – has been described by the Royal College of Psychiatrists as ‘callous’.

Media attitudes, sadly, are unlikely to change overnight. Instead, it’s down to all of us to learn to look out for the signs, to offer support, and to listen. And for anyone feeling anxious, worried or unhappy, it’s important to remember that you’re far from alone in feeling this way, and that help is always at hand.

The Samaritans’ freephone number is 116123.