Young people deserve better.

 Widespread mental illness among the young generation is still not addressed enough in mainstream media.

 We need to challenge a Governmental and cultural system that currently does not actively have the young of the nation’s mental #Health within its interest; according to Young Minds charity, depression among teenagers has risen by 70% in the past 25 years, and the number of young people who have attended A&E with a mental health condition has more than doubled since 2009.

From the moment a child is born today, the academic, social and career pressures for that child to succeed is also present and ever-growing.

 The Education website cites a list of exams that #Children born in the last 20 years, and today, could take through their time in education. SATS, Key Stages 1 2 and 3, the 11 plus or Common Entrance papers, GCSE’s, BTech, AS levels, A levels, not to mention University entrance exams, University degree exams and further higher qualification exams. This does not show the hundreds of practise exams, tests and revision sessions over an average school education that is spent on honing exam technique rather than straightforward “knowledge.” Small wonder that children are feeling constantly stressed under a regimented system that tests them from the age of six!

What needs to be done

We need to re-design a system that makes children ill from stress and anxiety because their entire worth to the world seems based on a points score of intellectual capability. Young Minds states that “there is a lot of pressure on children and young people to do their best and get good results…exam stress in particular can cause problems eating, sleeping, anger and anxiety levels.” 

We need to re-design the system that, through its ultimate focus on academic success tells children that exam competency is a more important lesson to learn than how to express your feelings, and deal with the emotional ups and downs that will inevitably occur as part of a healthy life. A study by National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness has concluded that exam stress is linked to teenage suicide, among other factors.

How can we accept our current education system, where young people are made mentally ill, or in the most tragic circumstances commit suicide simply because this system makes them feel worthless?

Not enough is being done either to tackle the overwhelming social pressure that young people are subject to, more than ever before. There will always be bullies, and emotional difficulties with our appearance that come with the huge changes around puberty. But our parents were not subject to 24 hour online scrutinisation of their bodies, or to anonymous hate, or to such a proliferation of accessible violent pornography. The internet can be a dangerous and lonely place, full of damaging subliminal messages. MentalHealth.org says that #Social media can have “a catastrophic effect on low self esteem”  We need to do more to change the culture that tells young girls that they must be beautiful in such a prescribed way that it takes away their natural, healthy beauty and replaces it with warpaint, lip filler and eating disorders. We can do this by further educating school children on the importance of their mental health, filling them with confidence that they are better than an advert, or a pout, that they are beautiful, needs to occur right now. What if we replaced a quarter of exams and their associated revision with wellbeing sessions, therapy and feel-good activities?

 

Young people need to be nurtured and treasured by our government and by the older generations in our society. We are the future that will dictate how the next generation lives; how can we help anyone if we are not first helped out of our culturally driven mental health crisis?