The chilling headlines, in a British newspaper, said it all: Teens In Mental Health Epidemic.
Reading further, I found that a combination of the stresses in today’s family life (including family break-downs) and an unprecedented increase in the number of tests introduced into the education system, are taking their toll on teens’s mental stability.
Apart from that, there is the constant pressure to conform to society’s pseudo-ideals; this, of course, includes for some teens a constant obsession with body-image fuelled by a barrage of advertisements and other types of media and peer manipulation.
This is borne out by the number of teens being treated for a “clinically recognisable” condition such as depression, eating disorders, binge-drinking, and anti-social behaviour, when compared to a decade ago.
Coupled with the fact that some teens lack adequate parental supervision, or care, especially when the family unit would have broken down, as well as the inactivity syndrome of when teens spend more time glued in front of a monitor than they do interaction with family members and eating, combined, this does not paint a pretty picture at all.
It could be, on the other hand, that teens’s attitude of “gimme gimme” is in part stimulated by the fact that they want to compensate in some way for that from which they are being deprived. Parents feed this mentality when they spoil teens with material goods to compensate for a lack of emotional giving.
Teens, however much they may try to do so, are unable to cope with the pretence of maintaining a semblance of order in their inane lives. At one point, they will have to stop acting as if everything were all right, when, once they walk into an empty house (the term “latch-key child” springs to mind here), they may have to cope with getting their own food, often resorting to pre-packaged junk. They then have to cope with homework as well as other stresses.
Teens are not “young adults” and therefore they cannot be expected to behave as such. Trauma that goes unrecognised, simply because a child has picture-perfect behaviour that their parents demand (“or else”), or that helps them integrate into society’s mould, are facing a bleak future indeed.
Our teens are our future; we cannot afford to brush this problem under the carpet. It takes a trained eye indeed to discern this unpalatable truth – and, moreover, not many of those who do detect a problem are willing to stick their neck out, fearing the consequences of ‘interfering’ and filing a report with the competent authorities.