Let’s stop stigma – And change mental health

Depression, self harm and young people

More and more teens are being treated for depression and self harm, according to a feature in The Times this week.

Carol Midgely interviewed a range of teenagers, who described their experiences and the pressures that they had been under, while experts speculated about the causes of this disturbing trend.
The increases in people in treatment may be due to an underlying increase in the numbers of young people with conditions like depression or who have self harmed. Suggested reasons for this numerous, including parental divorce, educational pressure, alcohol, social networking sites, materialism and youth unemployment, the Times reported.
But much of the rises that have been observed could also be the result of improved diagnosis and a greater willingness for teenagers and their families to seek out treatment.
As I mentioned in a previous post about problems with suicide figures in England and Wales, getting firm data that could inform policy and alert us to any worrying trends is not always as easy as some might expect. For example, as Carol Midgely observes, the government has not collected mental health data on minors since 2004.
And conditions such as depression and self harm are often hidden by those who may be suffering, out of shame or a sense of wishing to protect those closest to them from their own inner pain.
But while accurate national statistics for children may not always be available, charities such as SANE have been highlighting their own experience and research that suggests that there may be something very wrong happening with increasing numbers of young people in the UK.
At issue however, is what we can do to improve our understanding and offer realistic solutions that can support young people when they need it most.
Times report (paywall)
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