The double edged sword of mental health awareness

This article by Dr Max Pemberton, a prominent psychiatrist, has some controversial views.  It's something that NECS hear all of the time.

He is stating that around 50% of children claim they have a mental health problem.  He's also stating that they think it's cool to say they are depressed.   We hear the phrase that mental health is "just the new bad back" a lot.  It's something that people can't see so people can take advantage of it.

What is really going on?

It's great that more people are able to talk about their mental health.  The more we talk about things, the more we can give the right messages out.

What we've done, though, is create a society where people think they should not feel upset.  If they are then they think they have mental health problems.  But this just isn't real life.  Real life is full of ups and downs.  Tears and smiles.  Bad things do happen and we need to find the best way to deal with them when we do.

Does social media have an impact?

It's not just social media.  It's TV soaps and reality TV.

For years we've been pedalled the myth that everyone's life is wonderful.  And if it's not and a problem arises, it can all be sorted out quickly.

Relationship break up? No problem, we'll just move on to a new partner.

No money?  We'll just get a loan

Someone we love dies? After we've talked about them for a week, we'll be on to something else.

When we see these things and feel differently from this perfect world, we feel like failures.

What about parents?

As parents it's our job to protect our children, isn't it?  But what if our children grow up thinking nothing bad is ever going to happen?  If we make everything right before they've had a chance to learn how to do it?  If we tell them it doesn't matter if they came second in the race?

What we need to be doing is helping them to build their resilience.  Showing them to develop useful coping strategies - not just throw a tantrum when things don't go their way.

And don't forget we are role models for our children.  If they see us drinking, smoking, using drugs or getting angry when we are upset they will think it's normal. If they see us panicking when something goes wrong and worrying about things we can't control then they will be mirroring us.

So, is it cool to have depression?

Some children and young people might feel that if things aren't going their way and they feel upset or down that they are depressed.  They genuinely think they are depressed.

What we need to do is start to be realistic.  Show our children that life isn't all great.  Show them that things might upset them but they will survive.  That it will hurt when they lose loved ones, but it's because they love that person.

Learning to discuss emotions - getting the right words for their feelings - is an important thing to do.  Show them that it's ok to cry (whatever their gender) and that  you will listen and not judge them.  Instead of letting our children label themselves as depressed lets help them to put life into perspective.

Scroll to Top
Call Us