runningStaying active is one of the best ways to keep young people’s bodies and minds fighting fit, says mental health body beyondblue.

As part of last week’s National Youth Week, beyondblue urged young people to look for signs of depression and anxiety, look out for each other and seek help.

But beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell also encouraged young people to get active since good physical health and positive self-esteem were important parts of being mentally healthy.

“One of the best ways to stay healthy is being active,” she said.

“For young people aged between 12 and 18, 60 minutes of exercise every day can have a big impact on their physical and mental health. This can be as simple as a long, brisk walk or a ball game with friends. For young people aged 19 and above, half an hour a day of moderate exercise most but preferably all days of the week is enough to stay healthy.”

The push for greater awareness of good mental health is backed up by disturbing figures: more young people die from suicides than are killed in road accidents in Australia, making suicide the leading cause of death in the 15-24 age bracket.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics have shown more than 320 young Australians took their own lives in 2011.

“This is very concerning,” Carnell said.

“This means that a quarter of all deaths in this age group are as a result of suicide and that more young people take their lives than die in motor vehicle accidents. This is far too many.

“Australian Bureau of Statistics data also shows that 26 per cent or more than 550,000 young people have experienced a mental illness such as depression or anxiety in the last 12 months. These figures are frightening, especially if they don’t know where to get appropriate help.”

Beyondblue ambassador Bronwyn Collins, 24, said the week’s theme is a good way to live life.

“I play a lot of sport and found that helps me keep mentally healthy,” Collins said.

“That’s why the surfboard is a great prize. But whether it’s surfing or something a little less adventurous, I’d ask all young Aussies to make staying active a priority.”

INFO: If you need immediate assistance, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information on depression or anxiety visit beyondblue.org or headspace.org.au

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