Mental health and the new generation

In this modern day society of ours we are all told we drink too much, have too much sex and in general party too much. While this is true of some, I feel there is a major perception problem among the British people for the wellbeing of its younger citizens. A recent report has found that there has been a staggering rise in teenage self harm in the twenty years going from 7% of all 15 year olds self harming to 20%. This for me is no surprise and unlike others I shall not pass the blame onto social media, which for many is merely a conduit to keep in touch with friends who happen to live far away.  This isn’t a result of too much sex, social networking or too many parties as older generations might suggest. I feel it is a result of a sophisticated combination of academic pressure, social pressure and low self esteem.

The academic pressure which is put on to younger children is frankly horrendous both from society, from social peers and even from some teachers. The A-C culture which has demolished self respect among younger pupils has led to a battery farm of results where if you do not lay enough A-C ‘eggs’ you’re seen as a failure. This culture of academic achievement merely intensifies the need to perform well or feeling a failure if  not doing well. This in higher education circles also can lead to social pressure in order to perform better and not being considered ‘thick’ by your peers. This in turn can create and will likely create low self esteem which will lead to further problems which often are not identified.

I feel the problems besetting this new generation have been building for quite some time and in fact these results were nothing new to people belong to my generation (the ones just turned or are just turning 20). Not only is it through the social and academic pressures which should lead to worry but through the issues of the NHS.  The NHS is completely unequipped to deal with the problem since not only does only 6% of funding for the NHS go on children’s mental health services but the way in which we deal with mental health problems is inadequate. The waiting lists are too long, the crisis teams lack the time to sufficiently diagnose a patient, and notes from doctors especially with patients flitting from one doctor to another cannot be analysed successfully to find a pattern of self harm and depression or even early onset alcoholism.

Both of these issues lead to a disturbing fact, that not only is self harming and potential suicide risks rising but that the NHS is unequipped and are not dealing with it well enough. No doubt the service when people admit themselves is fantastic as I have experienced myself.  There are questions beyond this however, firstly, how many people go to health services for their mental health problems? Also even if people do go to the services often they feel a  lack of connection between services can mean that it is too easy to deny the problems you face. This is something I have done, where you feel that despite facing severe feelings in a negative way which results in self harm or a suicide attempt that you can bury them for an amount of time through lying to doctors.

All in all it leads to the sad fact that we as a nation are failing to address the nations mental health problems especially amongst younger sufferers. This is a problem which cannot be buried. Drinking excessively cannot be passed off as a minor problem nor can mental health episodes which many seem to solve by facing it on their own which often leads to disastrous consequences. The only way we can solve the problems we face is by facing up to the  lack of resources which are directed at mental health issues in younger people and changing that. This is something we are not doing as a whole and it needs to change to reflect the serious and chronic nature of the problem that surrounds us.

One response to “Mental health and the new generation”

  1. june Liggins says:

    Completely agree Samuel. I worked as a Careers Adviser for many years and was always sad to see the number of young people who truly felt they were failures because they did not achieve A-C grades, to the extent that they were actually going around saying they had failed their exams even though they had lots of D-G grades. When I was at school in the 1970s anyone who gained the equivalent of say 8or 9 never mind 10 A-C’s was considered exceptionally clever! It also makes me mad that every year when young people improve at GCSEs or A Levels they have to listen to debates in the media about how GCSEs must be getting easier!! I also met a lot of young people who were self harming and displaying other signs of mental ill-health and any attempts to get them the help they needed were difficult to say the least.

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