A recent study in the Guardian suggested that parents are overlooking the mental health of their teenage daughters. This is particularly concerning when it comes at a time that other studies have shown that children’s mental health problems are on the rise, creating a situation where girls are having their mental health overlooked precisely at a time when they need support more than ever.
One can draw two conclusions from this report. Firstly, it is a positive thing that parents are at least attempting to start dialogues with their daughters about mental health, though their interest mat be misplaced. Indeed, the crux of the story was not that the mental health of teenage girls was being ignored, rather, parents are focusing on issues with their teenage daughters that are in fact not really affecting their mental health. Therefore it suggests secondly that for all the good intentions, they are going to waste as parents are struggling to identify what it is that their teenage daughters need help and support with.
Perhaps it is indicative of the current online focused cultures and subcultures that young people are now today involved in, which their parents have not experienced which have left them somewhat nonplussed as to how they should help their daughters.
It is the surely the natural reflexive reaction of parents of teenage daughters to protect their children from ‘traditional’ vices. The world of drink and drugs can be damaging and so parents attempt to ensure their daughters do not fall into these traps. However it has been consistently proven (despite negative media coverage) that the younger generations are increasingly NOT trying drugs, and not drinking to excess.
Instead, parents should be focusing on issues such as sexting and cyberbullying, which now can go hand in hand. Cyberbullying is a problem which is on the rise but has not been given much attention by mainstream media. Older versions of media and adults in general are often in the dark about issues to do with younger generations and the internet, and as such cyberbullying has been neglected.
Cyber bullying is any form of bullying which takes place online or through your mobile phone, this can be in the form of social media, silent phone calls and abusive messages amongst others.
Cyberbullying can be blamed for playing a distinct role in the growing numbers of young people who experience anxiety and depression, and this number is ever increasing as a lack of awareness and understanding is preventing young people from getting help from people who can help them.
How parents can be these people who help, is by educating themselves. There are plenty of helpful resources online, and a simple Google search can unleash a treasure trove of invaluable information.
To get an accurate depiction of what your daughter might be going through, Channel 4’s recent drama ‘Cyberbully’ would not be a bad place to start.
At a time when young girls are at a vulnerable and tumultuous stage of their lives, it is important that parents can properly identify the difficulties their daughters may be facing, and communicate openly with them to help.