Let’s not beat about the bush; mental health is destroying our youth. It is an issue that, as a student, I witness every single day and one that has destroyed personalities, wellbeing and lives.
When looking at the evidence, the numbers hit hard, and are not easy to read. 50 per cent of mental health problems begin by age 15 and 75 per cent develops by age 18. It is a problem most common in our younger generation.
This is due to many factors, however one that cannot be overlooked is social media and technology. Social media sets a precedent for what certain people have to look and act like, and creates a stepping-stone for cyber bullying. For some, it only takes one comment, or one unfollow to create a sense of self-depreciation which can escalate into bigger problems such as depression.
Many people may think that mental health is an issue that effects mainly women, as they are almost dictated into acting and looking a certain way. However, suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK; the rates for women are a third of that for men. Men seem not to be affected by mental health problems; this, again, is due not only to social media but the media as a wider field. This is because men and boys are expected to be ‘tough’, ‘strong’ and independent, yet surely this should not stop them from talking to others in search for help. In modern society, a man with the character to talk about their issues is, in fact, stronger and braver.
In October 2017, Theresa May’s government conducted a report into the Mental Health Act 1983, but simply reviewing and amending legislation will not help the people in real need. More money needs to be put into mental health services and charities to help people on a more personal level.
In 2016, the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health was published. This stated that ‘the NHS needs a far more proactive and preventative approach to reduce the long-term impact for people experiencing mental health problems.’ This means more funding into research, prevention and treatment.
These are all things that the government must prioritise (if it ever moves on from Brexit) because, according to mentalhealth.org, it affects 1 in 10 children, and that figure is rising.
Luckily, I have had no personal experiences with mental health, however there are countless people around me, including friends and family, who have – or are currently going through – depression and anxiety. It is scary to think that much of the older generation disregard mental health and have never seen the true impacts of it, but the numbers speak for themselves.
So how can we tackle the issue?
As I have already said, funding for services and charities is key to connecting with sufferers on a personal level. However, schools also are at fault for a lot of young people’s depression. This is because the modern education system it is all about ratings, scores and grades. The amount of pressure that is put on children – even at primary school level – is unacceptable and counterproductive and it needs to be reviewed. This will, however, only happen if more young people speak out. We need to see a revolution in our younger generation, just as we have with the climate strikes. If enough students stand up and show the decision-makers and politicians just how big an issue mental health is then action may be taken.
So, in conclusion; our youth is deteriorating, and we do not want to see that happen to the future of our country. More funding, support and reviews into services, treatment and educational reforms need to be taken urgently. We cannot live in a world where the children of our country are depressed, anxious and even suicidal. It is most certainly the biggest issue affecting the country, certainly bigger than any calls for Brexit. It needs to be fixed, and soon.