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Is it the pressure of Instagram that affects young people mental health?

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Is it social media that puts the pressure on young people’s or is more than that.  Spotlight magazine journalist Rebecca investigates what causes this and how it affects young peoples mental health. 

TODAY, young people have a boulders size amount of pressure put onto to them by society today and what we tend to forget about when it comes to this is how it affects their mental health and is it one pressure in particular that is doing this. So let’s scroll through the posts of pressure we typically might see on the social media, we call society, and see what affects their mental health the most and why.

MENTAL HEALTH: Counsellors Sue Adams and Katy Bradbury in the wait room of the YCT house.

Now when I think of school I remember the days of not having a clue about what the teacher was talking about. Along with worrying whether I might be going bald from the stress that I faced with exams yet there was always that little bit more than put the pressure on me and some days I just felt like it was too much and maybe not to even go on that day. But it turns out that I might not be alone in this even today. Sue Adams the Clinical Lead at YCT said:  “So of the young people that we work with, are unable to go to school cause their so anxious. Cause the anxiety levels are so high, not always exam stress, there are other factors and the anxiety sort of stops them getting to school. They just don’t want to go.”

But it’s not just school that makes young people feel this way, maybe it’s that factor of whether we have it all and whether we’re enough for this day and age. One thing that I’ve found does this is the desire to have a designer item and this comes from multiple places like reality stars, social media influencers and as well as young people themselves for they may feel they need this to fit in.

MENTAL HEALTH: The media A-level students hard at work.

One of the A-level students at Harlow College said: “I’d say social hierarchy, which is why we strive to get all the designer stuff you want to live the lifestyle. Influencers as well they have an influence on the younger generation. People look up to them, the way they live their lives can influence their fans.”

Another A-level student said: “it’s just how the world is, everyone judges people on how they look, on their appearance, on how much money they have and not on how they behave and their character.”

On the other hand, some young people, including myself being guilty of this, like to feel brag about the bargains they may have got at Primark for a bag, skirt or even a hoodie. Caron Muldoon the Head of Psychology and Education at Harlow College said: “I think there’s a little bit of converse pride we people say no I got this in Primark, that also can be quite cool.2

“The idea of it hasn’t always I’ve got loads of money and I’ve spent it on this, that and the other. Sometimes it’s like you know look at me I shop smart.”

On the other hand, where does not being enough come into this? Well, it may be from the idea that we as young people feel there is a need to be perfect and be a Barbie or Ken doll. There has been an idea been place in young people’s minds that they can only share the good when it comes to social media like Instagram and we tend to give ourselves masks and build a narrow window for people to look through.

Katy Bradbury, a Counsellor at YCT, said: “What it’s all become about. The culture of how many followers you can get, how many likes you get. Wearing that mask, that Instagram lenses are a mask isn’t it, what you talked about, that everything’s great, everything’s fine. Then we don’t talk about our problems and that kind of eats away at us.”

MENTAL HEALTH: the entrance of the YCT house in Harlow.

But when do we take off that mask? Why is there so much pressure to keep this mask on even if there is a risk of losing ourselves and having bad mental health?  Caron Muldoon said: “It’s somebody’s ideal, I know of a young lady who posts prolifically, always on there, and honestly her life looks amazing and she’s like I’m doing this with my family, I’m having this house extension. Everything, wonderful, I’m spending this money, everybody’s happy in photos.”

“I also know alongside that I know that the same day there was a member of the family that was charged with sexual assault and there was a bereavement but the post still keeps coming of this positive wonderful life still of this positive wonderful lifestyle, which any family will be in that situation going on in their life is going to be really difficult. But still got to keep up the image.”

Young people feel there might be a need to keep this image up and that puts a large amount of pressure on keeping up the image, the brand to meet the standards of today’s society. For the maybe a lingering feeling that they maybe might get left in the dust.

But that pressure affects young people really badly in some case. For in a study done by the NHS in 2017 found that, one in eight (12.8%) 5 to 19-year old had at least one mental disorder when assessed in 2017. One in twelve (8.1%) 5 to 19-year old had an emotional disorder, with rates higher in girls (10%), than boys (6.2%). Anxiety disorder (7.2%) were more common than depressive disorder (2.1%). Overall, about one in fifty (2.5%) 5 to 19-year old were taking medication for a mental health related problem.

But what more needs to be done to change this, it makes you sometimes feel that we can release a pressure valve to decrease the size of the pressure that young people are under. But then age that maybe something that we can’t change. Or on the other hand doesn’t affect young people as bad as we think it is.  Maybe there is more to this than meets the eye, or is it the social media fuel society itself.

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