To ask a genuine question about child mental health?(44 Posts)
This is an issue that has touched our family recently and something we are struggling to understand and I was just interested in the views of other parents as to whether you think children's mental health is generally worse now than it was when you were young or whether we're just more aware of these issues now?
My daughter has mental health issues yet on the face of it has a much "better" childhood than I did - she has nice trips and holidays, better clothes and toys, loving friends and family. So we have been asking ourselves whether it's something in her character or whether her life is somehow affecting her mental heath - are schools more pressurised nowadays? Do we give her too much - would she be happier with a simpler life? I came from a very poor home with lots of arguing and we didn't get holidays or many toys and at times I wasn't that happy but I don't remember having the levels of anxiety my daughter has. I wonder if other parents feel the same.
Would be really interested in people's honest views on this subject- I won't judge anyone's viewpoint, I'm just looking for a better understanding of this. Thanks!
I think society is very different to when I was a kid, and that shows itself in lots of ways, from expectations, to parenting trends, to the pressure in schools, social media, famous celebs etc.
I think all of that feeds in to the current rise in mental health problems.
But I also think that many anxious children just went untreated in the past too.
I have a teen dd with anxiety and I would say it’s a totally different world for them and not necessarily in a good way. I say this because anxiety in school now seems absolutely commonplace. My dd’s secondary had two in-house counsellors and one external one. Good provision but where is all this anxiety coming from?
School is massively high pressured with schools making every transition (options, GCSE’s) sound like life or death decisions which I don’t remember feeling when I was at school.
Social media is intense and like being in a vacuum and I think our kids have grown up being hovered over by adult and chauffeured to activities rather than fending for themselves and seem to have less resilience. But I sound like an old fuddy-duddy saying that and not sure how true it is.
Interested in what others think.
You don't sound like an old fuddy duddy at all - I had freedoms that my daughter and her peers don't have. I was playing in the street with other children unsupervised at her age and it was totally safe and normal then.
I remember feeling depressed, withdrawn and anxious as a child, I feel it took me much longer to get my shit together, not much has changed I still have bouts, if I had of got more help as a child, it might have giving me direction, instead of finding myself the really hard way. My teens and early 20's were hell depression, anorexic, inferior complex, drug and alcohol abuse. I spent my late 20's sorting my shit and finding myself, I am settled and happy now.
I'm not sure whether it's more prevalent or whether we're just better at acknowledging it. My DS has quite severe mental health issues, so I know how much you can question yourself.
But I remember lots of people at school, who likely had mental health issues that would have been dealt with better today.
There were a fair few anorexic cases for a start. Several girls in my year would carve up their arms with compasses. One boy committed suicide. Another attempted suicide. There were also a fair few people I would look back on and think they were depressed.
I remember having anxiety and being unable to sleep at age 9. I left secondary school borderline anorexic. Not one teacher or either of my parents asked me whether I was ok. Although it was a bit more on the teachers as I was a boarder.
I managed to keep things together until my last year at uni, when I started to slide into depression. I've had anxiety and depression on and off ever since. I quite often wonder whether I would be better now if I'd had help as a child.
I think it is a combination of things. I think we all learn to deal with anxiety by doing things for ourselves and building feelings of competence. Many children these days get little chance to be independent. Many get told they can not go places or do things by themselves because of what might happen to them. So they learn the world is a scary place. Allied with a lack of exercise, and a lack of unsupervised play, and school being pressured.
But I think it is a combination. I am old enough to remember when most kids took 11 plus, which at the time really did determine your future. And I don't remember the high levels of anxiety there are amongst kids now.
it wasn't totally safe though - even though it was normal (playing in the street) the same dangers existed
I think we have got better at spotting issues because society is more aware of them and new 'treatments' are around - I think there is also more awareness of the serious damage caused to people/families/society by NOT treating childhood trauma/mental health issues
Sad that the money isn't there to support the work needed
Although I do think social media plays a part in the rise of stress and makes teens put more pressure on themselves. Neither of my children use SM and don't want to which I'm grateful for.
Makes sense to me
I do agree with clairemcnam.
I think kids need to experience things like having to move house/schools, dealing with things going wrong, working out how to get home when you bike has broken and you are 'playing out' half a mile away. How to deal with mean older kid in the park with no parents.
Most modern parents would be horrified at most of those, but they all happened to me, and it was how we grew up and learned.
There is a lack of resilience, combined with high expectations, especially over things like looks and exams.
Not sure I have any answers, but I do relate to what you are saying, My eldest daughter suffered from anoxeria , a crippling and dangerous mental illness. On the face of it she also had a much better , more secure and stable childhood than I did. At her school mental health issues such as eating disorders, self harming are very prevalent, whereas when I was at school it was pretty much unheard of.
I think 24/7 social media has a part to play-they can't just shut their bedroom door and escape, In terms of eating disorders there are so many fad diets /healthy eating plans that they can easily mask, trigger or hide an eating disorder. Food was much simpler in the eighties!
I also think expectations are higher which adds pressure and they have to work so much harder to get the same opportunities we had, for example a friends daughter got turned down for nursing with ABD at A level, but in the Eighties a friend of mine went to train at a State Registered Nurse with 5 O'level/GCSE's.
At least some of the statistics are because autism diagnoses are dealt with by CAMHS, so the massively increased awareness of autism is responsible for a lot of the rise in CAMHS referrals.
I do remember a lot of teenagers with what would definitely have been considered mental health problems when I was a kid - don't know if they got help then or not.
And one thing which is never mentioned in these conversations but which must be having an effect - 1 in 3 children in the UK is growing up in poverty, a rise of a million since 2010. That causes all sort of stresses, family breakdowns and anxieties.
But no. It must be the smartphones. Lets all blame the smartphones.
Yes resilience is developed by doing things for yourself and working out age appropriate problems without adult supervision. Yes there are dangers. But we either accept a slightly increased risk of danger, or we accept greater levels of anxiety and a lack of resilience.
And this applies to adults as well. As my parents do less and less that is not part of their routine, I see them get more anxious about doing anything different.
I have been extremely depressed since very young and have had mostly a good childhood. Depression can either be situational or clinical. With clinical depression it really doesn't matter how good you have it, the depression is caused by a lack of certain chemicals in the brain. You could live in Disneyland and still be depressed. Antidepressants help more here as they raise levels of serotonin.
I think a simpler life is definitely the way forward. Less expensive activities, more free time to just play or relax. More one on one time with parents without them being distracted by screens. Less screen time for children too, so they are more in the moment and present. More time out in the fresh air exploring as a family. Real conversations with your children about all the minute little things that are going on in their lives without distraction so they feel heard and valued.
I blame technology for the rise in mental health problems in children. I feel screens are to blame for children feeling disconnected and alone. Adults are stuck looking at them and children are parented by them.
Add in the pressure of constant activities and a lack of time to just be, it's a recipe for disaster.
I worry about this for my sons, and definitely think that a combination of societal expectations, school, parenting style, and social media are impacting mental health in a negative way. It is a very sad and concerning state of affairs and difficult to solve. Encouraging resilience is incredibly important, though I think that some are naturally more resilient than others.
I agree with the comment about a lack of time just to be. I think kids and adults need time when not much is happening.
I think children feel the need to be praised lots today, fire very little thing. Oh I put my socks on mummy.... OK....? Good job?!
All the certificates in school etc, we never had any of that. They expect constant praise
Praise can be good, but it can also increase anxiety if over done. It puts the emphasis on what a child is doing, rather than them just being okay for themselves.
Please don't blame yourself. It sounds like you've given her a wonderful childhood and that she's very loved. I do think that modern life doesn't help. There's so much pressure on children to have this and have that and do 10 activities a week. It seems that they often have little time just to be but I don't think that there's any one factor that causes it and for some of us I think that we're just very prone to depression and anxiety. It's wired into us. I think that's the case for me.
I think epigenetics plays a part. But I do think upbringing, and by that I mean all influences not just parents, can increase or decrease the likelihood of depression and anxiety.
I think with anxiety it is very important to do things to challenge it. Avoiding doing things is the worst thing you can do. I am also not convinced that adopting an identity of having social anxiety is helpful. It posits the level of anxiety as unchanging. When in reality most people have had periods of their life when they have been more or less anxious.
Thank you, she is very loved and I hope that will be enough for her to get through it, although I do lose my patience sometimes- her ocd can be very difficult to deal with. I think I worry more about being a good parent than my parents did, although they cared I don't think they judged themselves or compared themselves to the extent I do.
I actually think the culture around parenting plays a role too, I don't think my parents worried overly about being good parents, I think they felt as long as we were fed, clothed and had suitable boundaries that was enough, beyond that we'd turn out how we turned out. Now parents themselves seem to feel they've failed if their children don't excel and they're not paying for a string of out of school activities, there is this whole culture around Instagram parenting, and I'm sure children pick up on those anxieties.
I think parents just didn't believe in child MH issues. I know my mum didn't - doesn't - believe in things like separation anxiety, kids getting upset and unsettled when there is a lot of change in their lives etc. I was chucked out to play, I was bullied and assaulted, adults werent interested, it didn't build resilience at all, it just turned a quiet gentle child into a terrified child.
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