Are Changes in Society Affecting Young People

It has become well-known that mental health conditions are on the rise for children and young people, with various news articles making an appearance on the subject. Is this because young people are faced by more pressures in today’s society in comparison to the pressures that they would have faced 50+ years ago? Is society to blame for the current mental health crisis? Or has this level of young people with mental health conditions always existed?

I asked Twitter whether they thought that young people in today’s society are more likely to develop mental health conditions compared to young people 50+ years ago… 80% voted yes!

60% of young people in today’s society have reported that they have been unable to cope due to high pressures placed on them to succeed in every aspect of their lives. With 47% of young people (between the age of 18-24) said that they have felt stressed, overwhelmed and unable to cope due to their body image and appearance. 57% said they felt the same way due to fear of making mistakes. A large 39% said they had experienced suicidal thoughts due to high levels of stress and 29% said that they had self-harmed at some point in their lives due to stress.

The above figures can be seen as worrying; they may also be higher than that as not everyone likes to admit feeling in such a way.

There are many factors which could contribute to the high levels of stress among young people in today’s society:

  • Long working hours and low pay
  • Higher housing costs
  • Increasing higher education fees
  • The pressure to find a job after leaving school/university
  • Brexit?

A study of 4000 people across two generations found that the current younger generation thinks that their parents ‘had it easy’ when they were young… and the over 50’s agreed with them!
This study went on to find that young people today are more worried about money than what their parents were at their age. The older generation, when they were in their 20’s, were having fun, living their lives with little to no worries, and focusing more on settling down with a partner and having a family. The average age to start planning a family 50 years ago was 27, this is now at 29. Marriage is also seen as being less important amongst the younger generation today than it was for their parents and grandparents.
Younger people today are more focused on working, earning money, getting on the property ladder and then starting a family. The top three concerns in regards to causing mental health disorders in young people include money worries, being overworked, and body image.

68% of those that were surveyed believe that today’s generation is forced to endure more hardship than those 40 years ago. With there being more threats to their happiness and their contentment.

Today there is more than 13% of youth unemployment, along with a decrease in affordable housing. This means that there are many young people who are ‘trapped’ under their parent’s roof. This has been referred to as ‘suspended adulthood’. The youth was once seen as a desirable time in life, but it is now seen as being quite challenging and sometimes unpleasant. The youth of today are also faced with challenges and pressures that come from the internet and the media. Many experience cyberbullying, meaning they have no escape when they get home from school, higher education or work as any bullying that occurs there is likely to continue via the internet.

The media provides us with unrealistic images of how life is ‘supposed’ to be, with celebrities showing off their perfect bodies, huge homes and pixel perfect families, with friends and family posting highly edited selfies and pictures of their lunch, it is hard to tell what is real and what is not. This can have a large impact on the mental health of young people in today’s society.

Could Brexit Be Having An Impact On The Mental Health Of Young People?

The UK household survey analysed the mental health of around 35,000 people following the referendum in 2016. The survey found that there had been a significant increase in mental distress, especially in those who voted to remain within the European Union. With symptoms such as having trouble concentrating, unhappiness, depression and feeling worthless.

Many young people are concerned about the number of job opportunities that will be available to them once the UK leaves the EU. With essentials increasing in cost, and fewer jobs available, people are concerned about what their standard of living will be.

Another study found that the words used in regards to Brexit have changed over the years, with words such as ‘confusing’ and ‘uncertain’ being dominant in 2017 and ‘broken’ and ‘chaos’ being dominant now.
There are many people who voted to leave who now wish they had voted to remain. There are many young people who admit that they did not vote due to the lack of knowledge that they had about the situation at the time. There are people who have admitted that they voted, but have no idea what the implications would be.

There is also a concern in regards to our NHS. We all know that it has been going downhill in recent years due to the lack of funding and support they have received from our government. With mental health services suffering greatly.
The NHS relies heavily on overseas workers, data from 2016 found that the NHS in England included almost 60,000 members of staff with EU nationalities, including 10,000 doctors (9% of physicians) and approximately 20,000 nurses and health visitors. Around 13% of psychiatric consultants on the specialist register qualified in the EU/EEA. If we take health and social care together, there are over 160,000 EU nationals working in the combined sector in England, with additional staff in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

It takes a minimum of 7 years to train a doctor and at least 12 years to train a consultant. Without help from overseas workers, our NHS is likely to become even more short-staffed than ever before. This could result in doctors and nurses having to do jobs that they do not specialise in or may not be correctly trained to do.

Overall I do believe that young people of today are faced with more challenges and pressures compared to those of the past and I worry what that means for the next generation. But where do you stand on this? Do you think modern day society is tougher on young people than in previous generations? Do you think they are faced with the same level of struggles? Do you think Brexit is having an impact on the mental health of young people?
Let me know in the comments below! 

Sources: – Children and Young People

Rethink Mental Illness – Mental Health Of Young People

BBC News – Is The Mental Health of Young People Getting Worse? – Percentage of Young People Struggling Under Pressure

The Guardian – Mental Health Among Young People On the Rise?

The Guardian – It Has Never Been Easy Being A Teenager, But Is This A Generation In Crisis? – How Brexit Is Affecting Mental Health



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