Essays
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Mental Health

There are two new facts that sum up the age we’re living in.

  1. Almost half of young British girls seek help for mental health problems
  2. Teen girls feel misunderstood by their parents, who seem to care more about drug and alcohol abuse than mental health

Teenage girls are currently girded by a flurry of health hazards: Snapchat, dangerous viral dares, sexting, 18-year-old supermodel IT girls; the list goes on. Suffice to say, being young and female right now is not easy. If it was hard for us (periods during cross-country, boys who wouldn’t reply on MSN, parents who refused to buy us Bacardi Breezers), then it’s almost impossible to imagine what the new generation are going through. Our ex-woes multiplied by a hundred. So, that stat claiming that a vast portion of girls are looking for guidance on mental health? Not so surprising.

But the guidance they need, first from a trusted adult, is hard to come by. Lots of people, and parents, don’t quite ‘buy’ mental health.

Mental health, and all that falls under that term, is not new. People have suffered from depression, anxiety, and more, for years. People weren’t empathetic way back when. But what’s truly remarkable is that they still aren’t today. Decades have passed, progress has been made in so many areas, and we are still denying it; albeit casually, without wanting to get trolled, but denying it all the same. People often say it’s taboo, much like sex was years ago, but I don’t think we’re scared to talk about it. I think many of us point blank refuse to believe that it’s real because it isn’t tangible or visible (like say, a bag of pills or a drunken slur). We know this is the case because charities are having to persuade everyone to see mental health as a real, medical problem, akin to any physical ailments you might have, with clever adverts and slogans. Let’s just think about that for a second – they’re having to persuade people to believe that debilitating conditions exist for a huge chunk of our population. Essentially, that people aren’t lying.

My generation is pretty savvy with mental health. We’ve journeyed through our twenty-something years with the help of Lena Dunham and think-pieces on The Telegraph. As a result, we seem to be better equipped at dealing with our own mental health issues – from telling those around us with confidence, to openly speaking about it with friends and colleagues, even writing about them. Perhaps we’re the generation who ‘raised ourselves’ when it comes to mental health education. But that can’t be the only option the new generation have.

From anxiety to eating disorders, let’s hope that young women’s mental health problems don’t have to get any ‘realer’ to be taken seriously.

[Photo: robertsoncooper.com]

This entry was posted in: Essays

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