The title of this post is horrendous, and I’d like to apologise straight off the bat for that. However, I’ve used it for a reason. It’s the title of a tv series that was aired in 2014 about self harming teenagers. Thinking of that title in that context makes me cringe a little bit and I hope it has a similar effect on you. But I’ve used it in an attempt to call attention to how little attention we – and the media – pay to adolescent mental health. The programme itself and the idea behind it I have no problem with. The title however, incredibly insensitive.
If this is the first time you’re reading a blog post of mine, let me give you a little heads up. I’m Becca, and I’m a loudmouth when it comes to mental health. It’s a topic incredibly close to my heart and that’s why I decided to do a little survey on adolescent mental health. It’s still live and can still be taken so if you’d like to do that, click here.
However, I currently have 160 respondents to it and I’ve done an initial analysis that I’d like to share with you. Let’s get one thing out of the way, my survey is not without its issues. The respondents are 70% female, 53% from Scotland and 72% between the ages of 18 – 24.
That being said, let’s get to the analysis.
When asked the question “Do you think mental health disorders are a growing problem among young people or are we simply getting more comfortable talking about them?” the responses were split exactly 50/50.
However, my next question those who felt we were getting more comfortable talking about them was that if they were aware of the 34% increase in calls to Childline from children who were suicidal or suffering from depression. Out of those who did not know that statistic (88%), 20% said they had changed their mind and that we we did have a growing problem with mental health issues in our young people.
There were several questions in which you are required to write in your own answers and – as to be expected – I got about 160 different responses. One thing is clear though, whether it’s a growing problem or we’re more comfortable talking about it, almost every single person believes there’s a significant problem with mental health in adolescents.
The statistics for the under 18s is something that shocked me. Out of those who responded, 94% have recorded at least 2 symptoms of clinical depression, 82% had self harmed and 43% mentioned specifically being suicidal at least one time in their life.
Out of the largest group, the 18 – 24s (the ones with most recent adolescence experiences bar the under 18s), 62% of respondents had self harmed at least one time in their lives.
On the whole 91% of respondents knew someone who had self harmed.
When asked “Is there more pressure on young people today than in previous generations?” which was a compulsory question, 87% said yes.
When asked about the NHS’s dealing with mental health issues in general (a non compulsory question that everyone from the UK chose to answer), less than 13% were positive comments. And in those positive remarks were still statements like “Doing an OK job” or “Could be improved significantly.” One response even blamed the NHS for their loss of teeth by refusing to take their bulimia seriously until it was too late and they required sectioning.
Like I said, this is still the first stage of analysis regarding the survey. There are still responses coming in as I write this post which will be taken into consideration when I close the survey in the next couple of days. There are MANY more things that still need analysed. However I feel a lot can be taken from this so far. The self harm statistics alone shocked me as an ex-self harmer.
Regardless of whether it’s a growing problem or not, it’s still a problem we have and the evidence for that is clear. It’s a problem that we have and we’re having funding cut for it. In England alone there has been a 6% cut to mental health services for children which may not sound huge but has left a £50 million deficit that is simply unacceptable. Our response to mental health in general is unacceptable and there’s too much stigma around it to get the services we require. That needs to change. Sooner, because we may not have a later.