In the light of Mental Health Awareness Week, we thought it would be important to address a hugely relevant issue, which despite our apparent awareness, is still a taboo subject in everyday society. It is alarming to learn that over 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age, despite advancements in medical research regarding these issues. We feel that it is absolutely necessary to directly address this problem rather than simply scratch on the surface of it.
What hasn’t surprised us however is that schools have proven more and more of a breeding ground for these sorts of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and various eating disorders. The social pressures placed on us as young people today is overwhelming, and we can plainly see this through the savage influence of social media. Perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects of it is how while it offers a kind of escapism from our everyday reality, it doesn’t actually allow us to take precious time away from our own addictive superficialities. As a result, we face a bombardment of imposing messages from everywhere telling us how we should look, what we should watch or how we should behave. The product of this influence is that we are both consciously and subconsciously controlled in almost all aspects of our lives, and it is almost impossible to break away.
While it would be unfitting for the school to impose unfair restrictions of internet use on pupils, especially since the influence of the internet is not the sole reason for mental illnesses, we do think there should be an emphasis on tackling the causes of such mental problems rather than the symptoms. While warning signs are often present, it is often difficult to recognize the full extent of these issues. One of the first steps schools should be taking (which many have) is to acknowledge the problem that exists in the community in order to lessen the stigma surrounding mental health. So many young people struggle addressing their own warning signs and it’s even worse that others see it as a sign of weakness to seek help. According to recent statistics, two thirds of people with a mental disorder never seek help. This is why spreading awareness is such a vital step to take to tackle this ubiquitous problem.
By Romilly Cotta and Gabriel Byrne