Counsellor asks if young people are under too much pressure in modern society?

Young people are coming under increasing pressures in today's society
Young people are coming under increasing pressures in today's society

Recently, I switched on to a TV programme where a panel of individuals, ranging from students to journalists were debating the pressures faced by adolescents.

I watched with interest as I saw almost diametrically opposed arguments eloquently presented.

Effectively what we were seeing was an argument centred round whether or not formal assessments were good for challenging learners and preparing them for future roles, or whether they simply added pressure to an already challenging time of change for learners.

As a teacher and a therapist, I have to admit I was heavily invested in this debate from both perspectives.

However, from both of these perspectives I tend to identify with the same approach, and feel, as with anything, moderation is the key.

There are many things which can affect the extent of personal achievement.

There is an argument that not taking into account these factors and not making necessary allowances or adjustments, may result in children being labelled and categorised.

This in turn can have a profoundly negative effect on their development and aspirations.

Since 2011, there has been a 68 per cent rise in girls aged between 13 and 16 self-harming. Sadly, there are also statistics which will tell you, those who self-harm for a specific period of time are ultimately more likely to take their own lives.

The worrying statistic among this cohort of people, is that they are of school age.

Adolescents these days are faced with the harsh reality that wherever they turn, there are expectations on them.

Societal, parental, educational and of course expectations from the individual themselves, can all contribute to an added amount of pressure.

In Finland, it is not uncommon for children to begin school at the age of eight, with the emphasis, at a young age, being on play and social skills.

Finland is among the top performing nations in terms of academic achievement.

Finald also offers quite a unique method of treating mental health, having created a central hub which all practitioners can refer to.

It would, however, remain to be seen as to whether this system could be replicated here in the UK.

Ultimately children and adolescents will experience pressures throughout childhood, but at a time of perceived innocence, we do try to limit this.

However, individual situations will vary and some adolescents will be forced to grow up sooner than others.

One thing which can be agreed upon, is the increasing levels of self-harm among adolescents needs to be addressed, and part of the answer is to limit the pressure on children and young adults as much as possible.