Young people’s mental health: it’s not just school that’s stressful
Cast your mind back to the hectic time that was secondary education. Studying tirelessly for an endless number of exams and constantly juggling the teenage stress of everything that comes with it. And now, with the addition of social media, young people are experiencing the extra pressures associated with those platforms, resulting in their negative well being and self-esteem (Criddle, 2021).
Children’s mental health: It’s a complicated issue
Though school is the main stressor for children, there’s a more complicated situation to unpick (Gombert-Waldron, 2020). The pandemic has adversely affected children. Devastatingly around 1 in 6 young people have a mental health problem due to the pandemic (Schraer, 2021).
The Children’s Commissioner’s Office conducted a series of surveys from March to June 2020 of young people in England. Interestingly 41% of children reported feeling more stressed about school after school closure (Reeves, 2020).
29% of children with unemployed parents reported feeling stressed most or every day (Reeves, 2020). 40% of children with parents in unskilled manual professions such as supermarket workers, were more stressed due to worrying about their parents’ health (Reeves, 2020).
This shows children have been inadvertently sharing the burdens felt by their families and trying their very best to deal with their own.
It’s absolutely heartbreaking to hear the experiences of young people from the past year:
“I feel as though the world is ending and I want to scream but I can’t. I’m trapped in my own head and still forced to do work” – Girl, 17Reeves, 2020
Mental health support: we want more
There has been a much-needed call for mental health support services in schools and the government has pledged £79m to cover these services (Schraer, 2021). While this may be long-overdue, many have criticised this as not going far enough. According to the Children’s Society, by April 2023 less than a third of children will receive the support from these services. Undoubtedly, millions will be left without the help they desperately need now (Schraer, 2021).
“It is deeply concerning that so many children in England are growing up feeling sad and anxious, and these feelings are intensified as they get older…
We need to create a culture where everyone has a greater understanding of what keeps children mentally well and when professional help is needed.”Javed Khan, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, (tes, February 2018)
Young people have been engulfed by the stresses of school, family life and more. Young people must receive the help they deserve. Indeed, they should not be forgotten.
Criddle, C. (27 January 2021) Social media damages teenagers’ mental health, report says.
Gombert-Waldron, K. (2020), Children and stress, what’s worrying them most
Reeves, E. (2020), How lockdown affected children’s stress and anxiety
Schraer, R. (5 March 2021) Covid: Mental health money for children’s services.