There’s so much pressure. So many expectations. So much perfection. We’re living in a highly competitive world where everyone Is trying to make the most of their lives. There’s pressure to look good if you’re a celebrity, earn a living and pay the bills if you’re the breadwinner or fit in with the kids at school. People are constantly battling some form of stressful issue that lingers at the back of their mind when they wake up or go to bed. An inner voice refuses to go away when things get hard but when a niggling feeling begins to take over and waking up becomes a chore, then problems arise. At some point, most of us have seen gloomy days where life doesn’t seem great and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. For those who experience emptiness and more on a day-to-day basis, it becomes an uphill battle.
Today’s youth are spending more time online than any previous generations and becoming influenced by the content being displayed on social media sites. Young girls are suffering from eating disorders as airbrushed photos of celebrities show up on their screens. In some cases, the lavish lifestyles of others clogging up news feeds continues to dishearten those young people who perhaps feel that nothing is going for them. Others may find that their friends are achieving more, leading to a sense of insecurity and failure. With parents having no idea on what goes on in the minds of their children because of their own work commitments and problems, youth mental issues are being swept under the carpet. Statistics reveal that one in 10 children have a diagnosable mental-health disorder, about three in every classroom, and one in four of us will suffer from a mental health problem this year.
It’s high time we started talking about the problems young people are facing at school, work and home causing them to suffer from mental health issues. Mental health carries a stigma and is often not diagnosed and ignored by others. There’s a general lack of understanding from families and healthcare professionals which has resulted in Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, making mental health a policy priority with an extra funding of £1.25 billion for children and young people’s mental health services in England over the next five years. A report created by experts and NHS chiefs revealed budget cuts, increasing numbers of referrals and longer waiting times as a cause of concern. The findings may have created the immediate promise of implementing measures but the fact is, better access to care and more support for mental health patients is now being considered and discussed.
The Times’ Time to Mind campaign is also calling for far greater investment in child mental health services and the newspaper have created a manifesto for child and adolescent mental health services (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/article4390232.ece). Finally, the voice of the celebrity is further raising awareness of mental health problems. Zayn Malik of boy band One Direction was signed off from his tour with stress and he subsequently ditched fame to be a ‘normal 22-year-old.’ Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone has spoken out about her bout of depression whilst shooting for a film. At 36%, India has the highest rate of depression anywhere on the globe and the highest suicide rate of any country in the world. Padukone has now decided to set up a foundation called ‘Live Love Laugh’ to promote mental health in India.
Sadly, singer songwriter Lil Chris who was very vocal about his battle with depression on social media, passed away today. It is clear from all these stories across the globe that now is the time more than ever to take the mental health of young people more seriously before it leads to physical problems. Families, friends, employers, teachers and healthcare professionals need to be educated on how to advise and support those who are at risk.