Friday, 24 February 2012

I fear for our children

I guess we all do; I mean all of them, not just mine. The pressures on children these days have almost reached the point that they don't have a childhood anymore - the minute they enter a nursery, let alone a school, they are under pressure to achieve, to meet targets, to tick all the boxes on someone's sheet. I try to let my children be children and I'm glad they do get to play and have fun, but even so, they have homework and both are being tested before the school year is over. And it's only going to get worse as they get older. Part of me is dreading it, I want them to enjoy being carefree as long as possible but that's looking unlikely. Obviously, I have no experience of being teenagers but I know that at some point, the anger will start. I'm hoping with Monkey it doesn't get worse than it already is because he has anger issues at present, but they always say girls are worse in the teenage years, which is worrying as Missy Woo is mostly a dream to have around.

The reason I'm talking about this is that I was sent some shocking information by Relate, who are now one of the leading providers of counselling services to young people in the UK. In conjunction with the launch of their Talk To Us campaign, a survey of their counsellors found that young people in the 13 to 18 age range are becoming more and more affected by mental health issues and depression. They found that the most common reason for coming to counselling was anger, folllowed by self-esteem issues, closely followed by not getting on with their parents but a staggering 64% of them discussed being depressed or having mental health issues during counselling. 23% brought up the issue of their parents having mental health issues. Another big issue was feelings of worthlessness -  82% of counsellors cited being criticised by parents as a main cause of this, although on the other hand, 41% of children said they were inspired by a parent.

The campaign encourages everyone, particularly parents to listen to their children without judging them, (easy to say, difficult to do at times, I know) and let them express their feelings safely. Often, the anger comes from not knowing how to express their emotions or not feeling that anyone is really listening.   There is also advice to parents who may be worried about their children. There's also a section for teenagers who might need help.

Relate offer counselling for all young people, no matter who they are. To close, here's a very short film from them, showing how they can help. Feel free to share it with other parents or teenagers.

Would you have benefitted from counselling as a teenager? Do you think we listen enough to our children? 

(I have not been paid to write this post, I have chosen to do so.)
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