There was a debate last week about a report from the Youth Parliament on mental health in young people. This report was brought to my attention by Whaley Bridge resident Lucy Boardman, who was the Derbyshire Member of the Youth Parliament.
The Youth Parliament sits once a year in the main chamber of the House of Commons and they conduct a debate on a subject of their choice. The Parliament surveys around 1000 young people every year to see what the important issues are to them. Lucy told me that young people’s mental health regularly features in the top 5 or 10 issues. Consequently the Youth Parliament formed its own Select Committee to write a report on the subject.
I was delighted that it was then selected for a debate, not just because of the seriousness of the issue but also I felt it was important that, in an age when we need to do more to engage with younger voters, the work of the Youth Parliament is given proper respect and acknowledgement.
I spoke at length in the debate and it was interesting to hear other MPs’ experiences talking to the young people in their constituencies, and in many ways they mirrored many of my own discussions locally. The pressures on today’s young people are numerous and many of those pressures are brought about by the media and also social media.
As I said during the debate, the impact on social media on all walks of life has been huge. Many of these have been good and beneficial, however as with many things in life it can and has been used by some for the wrong reasons. The abuse through social media isn’t just restricted to young people, however the impact can be much greater on teenagers than on older people. Teenage years are very often fraught with uncertainty and vulnerability and comments posted on social media often exploit and heighten such feelings.
Similarly the pressures and expectations on teenagers brought about by some reality TV programmes can increase feelings of anxiety and depression. Often such emotions can be put down as teenage angst, but this isn’t always the case, there are genuine concerns in today’s modern world that the pressure on teenagers are becoming unbearable for many of them and as such we should always be wary of and sympathetic to these extra burdens that are a phenomenon of life as a 21st Century teenager.