Having teenage children, I am seeing more and more of this new ‘mental health’ fashion. Before I go into this, I would like to say that I do not take mental health lightly, being diagnosed with OCD some years ago and having suffered from PND after my second child, I am more than aware that it is no laughing matter.
That being said, it does seem that in recent times, it is becoming something that a lot of young people are using as a trend. There are kids sending photos to one another of their ‘cuts’ and comparing scars as if it is some kind of competition.
If someone is feeling just a little low or has one or two discomforting thoughts, they automatically self-diagnose with some sort of mental condition. I find this not only very dangerous to the actual mental health of the person but also a bit of a kick to those who genuinely suffer from some sort of mental ailment.
For example, as an OCD patient, when I hear people throwing around statement such as “I like to have my DVDs in alphabetical order, so I have OCD.” or “I have OCD because I always keep my house clean.” this really winds me up. Yes, mental health should be taken seriously and those who do have a problem should receive the correct care and treatment but to claim you have a condition just because you think it sounds quirky or cool is not OK.
One of my main worries is that kids are being taught a lot more about mental health nowadays, and while it is a subject that requires attention, I think it should be stressed that it is not something to be taken lightly.
So many kids are now attending doctors appointments and asking for anti-depressents and sadly, a lot of the time, it’s because their friends take them and it is almost expected. Only 20 years ago, when I was a teen, mental health conditions in children were almost unheard of. Some would argue that its because things weren’t so readily diagnosed or that it was more of a taboo subject but I genuinely believe it is because we weren’t bombarded with information to confuse us. Therefore, when a genuine mental health patient was identified, it was taken seriously.
Between the years 2006 and 2016 there was a 108% increase in how many anti-depressants were prescribed by the NHS (UK) that figure alone tells a story.
As I mentioned previously, it almost seems like young people, teenagers in particular are competing with one another as to who has the worst mental health. Where is this going to land our young people for their futures? In the UK, the CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health service) is so overstretched that waiting times for an initial consultation can be up to six months. Thereafter CAMHS are refusing service to more and more young people because they are trying to narrow down the ones that genuinely need help.
Again, bringing up a point I mentioned earlier in this post. I have personally seen teenagers and young people taking photos of their self harm cuts and scars and proudly flaunting them on the internet or via messages to friends. Some might say it’s a cry for help but in my opinion, those who really suffer from a condition that makes them feel so bad that they need to self harm, are usually very private and embarrassed about this. Once again, I’ll say it, it feels like a trend.
It is very important that we take care of our health, mental and physical but I think we need to be educating our children on what actually qualifies as mental illness and what is simply a craze.