I’d love to say it’s just lies, damned lies etc… but that seems all too easy a get-out. Sure, we all get inundated with data, fake and otherwise, but I am troubled by a recent headline. The 10th Prince’s Trust youth index reports that our young peoples confidence is declining in relation to key areas such as health and future prospects. Their overall happiness score was 69 out of 100, the first time it has dropped below 70.
The sad fact is that many of our young people are more anxious, less happy and suffering with mental and well-being issues; they are less happy in their own skins, and feel more disconnected from their communities and society as a whole. And if we look at the stats again , we know that by the age of 14 around 12 per cent of boys and 18 per cent of girls will have a mental health problem. Meanwhile CAMHS are overwhelmed with referrals and community run counselling services are at the sharp-end of funding cuts and reduced service provision. Not a happy picture.
So, I am puzzled, as well as dismayed.
What will it take for us to truly value our young peoples needs and respond to them with vigour, compassion and determination ? It was, I think, Gandhi who said
” The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”.
That phrase has been applied deservedly to many groups – prisoners, refugees, mentally ill, homeless….But society needs to recognise that the well-being of our children and young people is the sine qua non of a healthy community .Our hopes and aspirations rest on their small, undeveloped and unsupported shoulders.
Puzzled ? Answers on a postcard .