Are our teenagers in crisis? In particular the girls? Around 35% of 14-15 year old girls are suffering from symptoms of psychological distress – the figure for boys is just 15% according to a new survey by the Department of Education. Girls are facing a huge range of pressures and suffering in many different ways at unprecedented levels – whether it is from depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, self harming, addiction problems or merely social issues and we need to urgently find out why.
I agree with Professor Dame Sue Bailey, the chair of the Children an dYoung People’s Mental Health Coalition who says that the UK “should brace itself for a tsunami of adults with mental health problems unless urgent action is taken to help today’s children”. She suggests that we baby boomers owe it to the next generation to provide additional financial support to help alleviate the problem. More money going into schools to offer self support is what she suggests. Good idea. It needs to happen soon. How can we help get it started?
How terrifying that just today The Guardian has a front page report regarding an inquiry into the state of mental health in England that found alarming evidence or “an explosion” that more young women aged between 16 and 24 were experiencing mental health issues than ever before and have in fact become “a key high risk group”. The researchers attribute the problem to violence, trauma and the pressure of social media. Apparently psychological distress is now so common that one in four in that age group have harmed themselves at some point.
Of course today’s pressures on teenagers are huge, but what has actually changed over time? Social media is the most obvious completely new area of focus, but surely this has also helped girls feel less isolated at times. Interestingly there is new research to suggest that the contraceptive pill might have something to do with their depression.
So which of these in particular do you think are causing the most issues with our children today?
Exam pressures of academic high achievement
Social media influences – from self esteem issues, jealousy, body shaming, cyberbullying and access to pornography
The contraceptive pill
Self esteem issues
Better ways to diagnose
More confidence to admit to problems
Different reactions between males and females to stressful events
A new Danish study discusses how women taking the Pill may be at increased risk of depression with teenagers facing a 80 per cent higher risk. The study, on one million women found that those on the most popular type of Pill – combined oral contraceptives – were almost one quarter more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant than non-users. The risk rose to 80 per cent among teenagers aged 15 to 19.
World Mental Health Day is on Monday 10th October and gives us the opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world. The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is “Psychological First Aid and the support people can provide to those suffering from mental health issues. This is mainly with regard to brutal conflicts and crisis events around the world involving exposure to trauma and sudden loss and is obviously vital.