2006-08-01

Brought up to mental illness

One thing that's been on my mind a lot lately is the mental health of youngsters in our country. A recent article in our local newspaper reports that 1/4 of all 16-year-olds have hurt themselves in one way or another. This is a really scary figure. A lot of young people are feeling bad today and even has to go to such lengths as hurting themselves to get some relief from their mental suffering.

I've always assumed that the fundamental reason for this is that parents doesn't care enough about their children. Sweden has a very self centered culture and that can make children be less important that the parent itself. So my suggestion to solve the problem has been to spend more time with and care for the children.

But today I read a very interesting article in Psychology Today called "A Nation of Wimps". This article suggest rather the opposite of my assumption. The problem is that parents micromanage their children, keep them away from anything that might hurt them or make them sad and they do just about anything to make sure that their children get high grades so that they can attend prestigious colleges.
It this way children have no chance to develop the right cognitive tools to make it through life.

True, the article from Psychology Today concerns the US. But it might be relevant to Sweden as well. The International Herald Tribune has a very nice article about Swedes as 'safety junkies' and 'curling parents', a swedish expression for overprotecting parents. It might be that swedish parents are just as bad when it come to overprotecting their children.

It seems that we have somehow forgotten what good parenting is. And commercial interests have invaded the whole parenting area and profits from anxious parents.

The political party Kristdemokraterna (roughly Christian Democrats) is the party which profile itself towards families. Their suggestions for the upcoming election is to put the parents in charge of their children's upbringing and kindergarten and give parents more time with their children. I've always thought that this sounds like a really good idea and a good way towards making young adults feel better. But the above articles suggest that this line, while not bad, won't help this particular problem.

So what can we do about it? I don't know. Parenting courses? But who's to give them? But clearly we need a solution soon. There's a lot of young people who are not feeling well right now.

2 comments:

Andy said...

There are lots of complex issues involved. T'internet has few good resources that you may find informative. For instance

Mind's page on self harm (Mind is an English charity for mental health issues)
Samaratans' page (a non-directional non-judgemental listening service)
national children's bureau's page

Josef said...

Andy, thanks alot for your helpful links.