Being a teen in this modern world is, in my opinion, a lot harder then it was for my generation.
I grew up in the 80's. Life wasn't easy for us, we had barely any money, lived in a fairly rough area and got by by amusing ourselves playing in the street for hours and taping the top 40 on a Sunday.
The 5.30pm episode of Neighbours was the highlight of my day.
My mum was at home when i came home from school, i was able to leave bullies at the school gate and was fairly unaware of what was happening in the world, locally, nationally and worldwide. We were tucked up in bed before my dad switched on the news.
This is a sharp contrast to the lives of today's teenagers.
I have two teenagers. They have freedom that i never had. They have technology that i could only have dreamt of.
But unlike my own childhood, my teens have spent time left alone while Ive worked, they have been bullied online and have experienced exam pressure that i never had to endure.
The modern teenager is under a lot of pressure.
The mental health of Teenagers and young adults is a subject very close to my heart.
I have spent the last hour reading over The Good Childhood report released in August 2017 by The Children's Society and i find the findings really worrying.
They carry out an invaluable service to young people in the UK, and have put together this report, The Good Childhood Report, to explore how our teenagers feel about the world and how happy they are.
The Children's Society is a national charity that runs local projects, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn.
The results of the 2017 study identified that-
- 2.2 million children are in fear that they will be a victim of crime
- 1 in 3 girls fear being followed by a stranger
- 1 in 4 boys fear they will be assaulted
- 200,000 children say they don’t get enough emotional support at home
- One million teens have seven or more serious problems to deal with
- More than a third are in families struggling to pay the bill
So why are our adults of the future feeling like this?
If you are regular visitor hopefully you will have read my blog on social media and its effects on our teens, if you would like to have a look you can find it here.
The rise of social media and technology mean that young people are much more aware and exposed to the dangers of the world.
i think its completely understandable that teenagers feel more vulnerable when they have instant access to all the terrible things that are happening everyday.
The recent terrorist attacks have caused a lot of distress to my already anxious 12 year old niece. My sister did her best to prevent her from seeing it in the media but with my niece having her own phone it was impossible to do.
With the constant sharing revolution that we now live in its very difficult to protect our children from the realities of crime, even in your own area.
Being online makes it much easier to be targeted by bullies and unable to escape the ridicule of others, silly mistakes are now filmed and shared within seconds.
I can remember when my son E was 14 he got into an argument with another boy over a girl and was punched in the mouth. Within hours there was a video uploaded to You tube of the argument and fight for all to see. It took me 2 days to make contact with the parents to have the video removed.
The immense pressure of GCSE success on teens is another major cause for anxiety and stress. I may be looking back with rose tinted glasses but i honesty don't think we were under such strain when i was at secondary school.
Even at primary school level children are experiencing stress, pressure and a constant need to prove themselves with SAT's tests.
The growing poverty caused by the current governments austerity measures and the roll out of Universal Credit apply more pressure to already struggling families.
I think it can be easy to dismiss the social exclusion and isolation teens feel by not being able to do things their peers are doing or view not having the latest fashion or technology as being spoilt or over indulged when actually poverty makes teenagers a target for bullying.
A teens parents or carers are, although the teens may not like to admit it, a pivotal part of their well being, as a parent it is very difficult to hide family problems from your children, my kids always know when something is worrying me or if we are a bit strapped for cash.
They are much more aware than they seem!
When i read that 200,000 children don't feel they have emotional support at home, i thought how awful that this amount of teenagers cant talk to their parents!
But then it occurred it to me that lack of emotional support doesn't necessarily mean they aren't loved or cared for.
When you consider there are an estimated 700,000 young carers in the UK, would they want to trouble a poorly parent with their own worries?
Teens with disabled siblings may also find it difficult to approach parents when their family is under so much pressure. There are so many reasons that a loving home environment can be lacking emotional support and teens need someone they can confide in and trust.
In situations where there is little emotional support at home or the family themselves are struggling to cope, help and advice from outside the family unit such as school counsellors and CAMH's are stretched to the limit due to budget cuts.
I have personally experienced difficulty in accessing help and support for my daughters mental health issues and unfortunately things had to come to a crisis point before help was offered.
Even when support was made available it was disjointed and we were signposted from service to service because in reality none of them wanted the workload on their budget. Numerous times K was offered services that weren't suitable or she wasn't well enough to use just because that was all that was on offer in our area.
I really feel that if K and i were offered the right support and intervention when her problems first began her mental health would not have deteriorated to the level it did.
What can we do to change this
We need to ask the government to invest in our young peoples future.
The good childhood report states that funding for early help services for young people alone is expected to be cut by 70% between 2010 and 2020.
This will leave a 2 Billion pound gap in services for young people.
An earlier study carried out by the Children's Society showed that 70% of children and teenagers who experienced mental health problems were not offered appropriate intervention at a sufficient age. With these continued cuts this will only get worse.
These teenagers are our future adults. They will grow up to contribute to our society.
It is important that we nurture them and offer them the support they need to develop into healthy minded adults with the ability to deal with life's pressures.
The Children's Society have created a petition to ask our government for more local funding to help young people before they hit crisis point.
This Petition only takes a minute and your signature will be supporting the children's society in trying to make a positive difference in young peoples lives
Please visit here to show your support
The Children's Society Petition
You can read the the Good Childhood Report here
And find out more about the children's Society Here