Story by A.O.S.
A recent rise in concern about the mental health and well-being of UK citizens has seen focus on the next generation of adults being overlooked. Many young adults in education do not have extracurricular activities or passionate local role models to put them on the right path. Recent surveys indicate that as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression.
My personal experience
I am a 16-year-old who has just left secondary school and experienced first-hand the neglectful attitude school representatives can have towards the out of school lives of children.
Although student mentors have been implemented, some teachers without any psychological training are expected to take responsibility of troubled kids. In my own experience this has led to more issues. E.g., being unable to open up to teachers, feeling alone in school, losing interest in coming to school and becoming distant with friends.
Another issue with the “student mentors” is that they are used to punish children instead of helping them. I have had friends who have been pulled out of a lesson to be scolded for not finishing their homework or lateness, this makes them reluctant to tell the teachers the reasons because they see them as a threat and not a mentor, ultimately leaving them to suffer in silence. This can leave naïve and vulnerable children open to peer pressure.
What should be done
This lack of focus on children’s mental health has become a pandemic that needs to be eradicated. This can be achieved through proper funding for mental health facilities in schools. The next generation that will run this country learning how to be mentally positive will encourage them to do monumental things in the future.
Every low-income area in Sheffield needs to be provided with youth clubs where children can feel welcomed regardless of age, colour and personality. Grass-roots community organisations running weekly sessions where the youth play sports as well as regularly being taught about being safe and productive activities by the leaders would have a huge impact.
If more organisations where kids can congregate were funded, less incidents like stabbings or high depression rates would be seen. I attend my youth club weekly, it has helped me to understand my skills, talent and passion. Not all teachers are disconnected, I have had favourite teachers who took me under their wing and pushed me to focus and to understand I CAN DO THIS.
There should be Diversity & Equality clubs, ambassadors for young people, anti-bullying campaigns all year around, less stereotyping and labelling, more understanding and communication. Kids are more than our attendance score.
This is an issue that I feel strongly about. I see people who used to be my friends following paths that will get them nowhere just because they’re influenced to do pointless activities. I would like the government to make it a priority to focus on these children because their parents don’t, their schools do not give them a reason to, and some of those friends are a negative influence. This could be a 10-year project that will prove to be beneficial for the whole of the UK.
These are children crying for help, left unanswered and adults are the only ones that can help.
Mini Messenger appeal
The Mini Messenger needs youth groups, schools and people aged 5-25 to help create a section made by and for young people.
Training and support is available. If you would like to get involved please contact firstname.lastname@example.org