Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1008/27911
Self-harm soars among young: fight the mental health crisis
Lindsey Morgan, Leicester West Socialist Party
Our young people are hurting. Capitalism and the austerity agenda have put enormous pressure on them and their families, and an expression of this is the tragic rate at which young people are self-harming.
22% of 14-year-old girls are self-harming, according to the latest Children's Society report. They are more than twice as likely as boys - themselves at an unacceptable 9%.
Additionally, young people attracted to those "of the same gender or both genders were much more likely to self-harm" - 46% had.
Unsurprisingly, the report also finds that children from lower-income households have a higher-than-average risk of self-harming.
The report gives a number of recommendations for how society can improve the wellbeing of young people. One that is key is for parents to spend quality, unstructured time with their children.
But this can be almost impossible with low wages, a lack of free time, unstable employment, and the rise in mental illness for adults as well. And sadly, self-harm is only the tip of the iceberg.
After my partner died I became extremely ill with depression and anxiety which had been made worse by grief and trauma. I needed help.
I was put on a waiting list but because I needed a specialist form of therapy. I had to wait for just over a year.
I was paralysed by flashbacks to my partner's collapse and death. Ambulance sirens would trigger panic attacks that left me vomiting in the street.
But because I wasn't self-harming or suicidal, the system didn't view me as in crisis.
Our benefits were stopped. I had to fight for my 'employment and support allowance' by taking the Department for Work and Pensions to tribunal, just to get that measly amount of money to survive on.
It enrages me that my circumstances are far from rare in terms of the squeeze on quality of life for so many.
Young people's happiness with their lives has taken a big hit since 2010. Young people feel increasing alienation and insecurity about their futures.
But as socialists, we know the working class has the power in its hands to transform society.
As part of this fight, we demand less pressure on students from endless exams. We demand that schools be publicly owned and democratically controlled, with all the funding they need, and extra support for vulnerable students.
We fight the discrimination from the top and backwards attitudes that capitalism fosters that make LGBT+ young people so much more likely to hurt themselves.
We demand an NHS under public ownership and democratic control, fully funded and able to deal with all the ways mental health has been damaged.
We are sick of words from this government of the super-rich about help for mentally ill people, without ever putting their money where their mouth is. We are sick of them making us sick.
In The Socialist 5 September 2018:
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