Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing published last week showed I am not alone in experiencing such problems.
Whilst the survey drew on 2014 data it provided an important check on the health and wellbeing of the population. The results showed that one in three adults, (those aged between 16 -74) with conditions such as anxiety or depression were accessing mental health treatment. This is an increase since 2007, with women in particular showing higher rates of anxiety and depression than previously. Work related stress is but one of the known causes of anxiety and depression. There are a wide range of other known associations. These include: social isolation; being a member of some ethnic groups; poor housing and fuel poverty; childhood abuse (physical and sexual) and neglect; poor physical health; bullying, bereavement; job loss; being a carer; poor family relationships; problems with alcohol and illicit drugs; and being female.
last week's blog I noted that these days on average children get their first smart phone aged 10 years old. Clearly smart phones, computers, TVs and tablet devices are absolutely brilliant for enabling children and young people to explore the world they are growing up in and understanding themselves in relation to others in that world. Increasingly from a much earlier age children are experimenting with communication, information discovery, relationship building and unfortunately, at times, perhaps also putting themselves at risk of exploitation by others.
Nick Harrop, YoungMinds Campaign Manager has noted that engaging in social media can put a great deal of pressure on girls to live their lives in the public domain, to present themselves as a 'personal brand' from a young age in their desire to seek reassurance in the form of number of 'likes' and 'shares' or 'retweets'. Other research by YoungMinds revealed that 81% of parents felt that access to social media resulted in their children being more vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems. It would be wrong of me to assume these are the same parents that buy their children a smart phone in the first place.
However, it was the work of Jim Horne of Loughborough University's Sleep Research Centre that caught my attention last week. His research discovered that only just over 50% of all 11 – 17 year olds are getting eight hours or more sleep. His sleep expert team report that young people in this age group tend to need at least 8 hours of deep sleep to be able to concentrate at school and maintain their mental health and wellbeing. Whilst I think smart phones and other devices are brilliant at enabling children and young people to connect with the world they live in, Jim Horne notes that the white light from the screens affects how people get to sleep and of course, the gadgets themselves can be a constant distraction.