Recent research carried out by the BBC stated ' ...half of teenagers with mental wellbeing issues try to cope alone....And a third said they were not confident enough to speak to a teacher.' Over the last 10 years, I have witnessed an alarming increase in the number of mental wellbeing issues being displayed by students. Much of the stress and anxiety, I am convinced, is linked to social media and over use of mobile phones. I have no scientific proof to back up this claim, however watching the students when they are in crisis, is distressing enough but what is even more damaging is when they talk of 'just wanting it all to stop' and by this they mostly mean the constant text, snapchat or other attention grabbing 'bzzzz' of their phones. Arguments over football or clothes or nights out should be forgotten and done with, however what we are seeing is really trivial things become major issues because not only does 'everyone' get involved through group chat but they all comment and add more detail. I recently worked with a group of students who had experienced a monumental fall out. It lasted for a very long time and when we finally got to a resolution, they honestly couldn't remember what the original argument had been about.
The students who are anxious and enduring panic attacks are also likely to experience worsening symptoms with the constant mobile interruptions. Of even more concern are the dark internet chatrooms and websites that exist to undermine young people's self esteem. As a school we do a lot of work around keeping safe on the internet, but sadly many young people seem to think it won't happen to them.
Mental well being is a really big issue, we have invested in a new member of staff who is highly experienced and trained in dealing with these sorts of issues. With her expertise we have already started to make changes to some students lives. There is still much more work to do.