Blog post: We need to talk.
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
My want to help people to become the best versions of themselves started without really realising it. I was talking to a teacher friend of mine who told me of the number of children at secondary school in the UK that take medication (in the form of anti-anxiety and anti-depression) to try and tackle being a teenager in the modern day. I was in disbelief. Surely the pressures are the same for every teenager across recent generations within the same society?
The comparisons I drew with myself as a teenager and the modern incarnate were many; complete your home-work, pass your exams, play sports, have a social life. The only major difference I could see was that social media didn’t exist when I was a younger. Does social media play such a crucial role in the life of today’s teenager? To the point they require medication?! Surely they just need to talk to a counsellor? Surely they’re made aware of such principles as beliefs, perceptions and consequences etc?
Of course I’m only viewing this situation from my perspective, but the idea of simply prescribing pills to students has the potential of lifetime dependency.
I’ve reached out to a few local schools to enquire as to what they teach students about mental health, social media, relationships, budgeting and nutrition, the results so far have been minimal. Should we be teaching students about these subjects rather than simply asking them to retain short term information that may offer no insight or understanding of themselves or the world that they are (very soon) to be a part of? Surely the staggering rise in the phenomena of ‘revenge porn’ as an example is testament enough that, as a society, we are failing the next generations.
The main issue that concerns me whilst writing this post is the growing suicide rate affecting young adults in the UK, particularly the percentage of men taking their own lives. In 2019, over 4,000 people committed suicide, the vast majority being men. Why? Is it simply because once we’ve left school, our only job (as a ‘man’) is to be the provider? The hunter-gatherer? I call bullshit. Repeatedly. But this might offer an idea as to why so many young men in the UK are taking their own lives.
If we’ve been labelled and identified as being a man since we left education: do we talk, walk, dress and behave in a manner befitting? Do we have to? Where is the unwritten rule that clearly states all men should remain emotionless? Is that why we traditionally go to the pub as often as possible? To escape our problems for the short term? Is that why football is the most popular sport in the world? Because, as a football fan, the showing of emotion between men is not only acceptable, it’s recommended. It is perfectly acceptable for a man to cheer, shout, scream, laugh and even cry in the company of other men, provided you’re in a football stadium, surrounded by thousands of other men wearing the same coloured shirt as you….but as soon as the final whistle blows – NO MORE EMOTIONS UNTIL NEXT WEEK I’M AFRAID!
We may have labelled ourselves being the provider. But what happens if you’ve lost your job due to the pandemic? What are you now? How many of the thousands of people who have taken their lives did so, because they were no longer what they defined themselves as being, and feeling now that their existence is worthless?
Instead of defining ourselves by what we are and what we do, maybe we need to start defining ourselves by who we are. Personally I define myself as being caring, truthful, understanding, positive and genuine. If I can be all of those things then whatever life throws at me next I know that I am being my most effective self. And you can too.
We need to talk.