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Do 47% of millennials really have mental health issues or are they just bedwetting snowflakes playing victim again?

Tom Winnifrith
Friday 6 April 2018

I take mental health very seriously and would never trivialise it. My mother killed herself when I was 8. I have suffered from bouts of severe depression and have been open about having a serious breakdown some six years ago when everything went wrong and I just could not cope. That I met the woman who is now my wife at my lows as I considered diving into the abyss I thought I faced, may well have saved my life. I do not joke about or trivialise such matters.

In Britain we still find it very hard to discuss mental health issues and matters such as suicide as we should. My mothers suicide was one of four in my family (both sides) over the past 85 years. That is four that I am aware of, there may be more. We just don't talk about them. I don't joke about these things.

So I am amazed to see a survey carried out by the Prince's Trust published on March 1 that stated that 47% of 16-25 year olds said they suffered from mental health issues. The sample size was 2,215 so that is large enough to be statistically valid. Apparently among the 47% outcomes were that they were:

"Significantly less likely to feel in control of their job prospects, more likely to feel too tired and stressed to cope with day to day life and more likely to feel they have no control over their education, training or finances than their peers."

That is what these folks perceive and in some way they are conditioned to believe that these are signs of mental health issues. But surely these are just part of growing up? It can be tough as a teenager or young person acclimatising to your first job or to losing out in love. I will later today be meeting up with the woman who broke my heart 32 years ago. Back then it seemed like the end of the world but - though I tease old Abbe Aronson otherwise - I really did get over it in the end. Sure as a twenty something I was in debt - wasn't everyone after University? I struggled as I entered the workplace for the first time. Didn't everyone? That is life.

If folks want to see these normal aspects of life as making them a victim of mental health issues that is their right, just as we can all these days identify as whatever we want and claim victim status as a result. My ancestors were Cromwellian settlers in Ireland who lived in a stunning Country pile but I am going to claim victim status as an Irishman and demand that you wicked Brits be really nice to me to make up for it. I trivialise the issue and that sort of thing inevitably means that real victims do not get the attention they merit.

There are young folks out there who really do have serious mental health issues and are at risk of self harming or worse. But if 1 in 2 of their peers think they have an entitlement to help that is really not needed that is a problem.

Because - and I hate to upset the bedwetting generation - there is no money tree and resource is by definition limited so if half of all folks demand assistance some of those who really need it will miss out. Moreover it will leave those who do not take mental heath seriously able to dismiss it as not an issue since so many of those claiming victimhood are patently bogus.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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