The observed rise in mental illness is a widely debated topic, but still one worth having: what are the causes and effects, treatment options, the works. These are mostly summed up by a collection of social issues; a recent surge in sexuality/gender confusion for instance makes it easy to second guess ourselves now, especially for children whose minds are easily influenced. Some say how much easier it is to survive, live, and thrive in today’s world with an increase in technology; and while that’s true on some level, increased social pressures threaten our emotional and psychological health.
Examining a few examples including: social media pressures, the ‘I’ generation, increased performance pressures, Electronic Screen Syndrome (ESS), and the acceptance of mis- prescriptions, I want to elaborate on why these factors have blighted the youth of today.
Beginning with the most obvious one: social media pressures. If you simply decide to visit the most popular video sharing site, YouTube, you will soon discover a thing called “influencers.” Ignoring the seemingly meaningless content, some of these YouTubers are racking in millions of dollars and are their family’s main source of income. Imagine the pressure on these kids - some of them as young as nine years old - from a ceaseless demand to create the content that their gazillions of subscribers are waiting for. If not already, by their teens, a large proportion of them would surely undergo some form of mental illness.
Even amongst young adults who don’t submit to the pressures of YouTube income, many are victims of social media in some other form, be it Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. I see it on the daily when my peers are unsure of what to post and they are stressing over the precise time of when the majority of their followers are online in order to generate a high amount of likes and appreciation. This generation of youth is insatiable for satisfaction and attention.
Which brings me to the ‘I’ generation. A collective whom have the need or craving for instant gratification thanks to growing up with social media and other miscellaneous technology. This is pretty much self-explanatory, but the level of necessity that goes into this can introduce anxiety or a type of narcissism that can take place in the belief that their opinions are so valued and built- up, the stress of simply being criticized can be detrimental.
When it comes to getting a break from social media and getting “actual” stable income, we get the leftovers - of the previous generation, that is. After Gen X and the elder Millennials have taken their bite (cough cough: the economy), we get the scraps. Meaning the jobs that are available to the common person are not going to be so corporate/executive. Freelancers are on the rise and it seems we’ve sparked a world of entrepreneurs. Though, one can speculate if this is because of the limited job market, or if it’s just in our nature to not succumb to “the man” anymore, illuminating why we’ve decided to become our own boss, to create our own content, and so forth. But for those who are not so creative or, if no one’s buying, a freelance gig can be a stressful situation as a main source of income. Again, the pressure to provide can be overwhelming. This, in turn, can affect the mental state.
Staring at a screen for all hours of the day can have pretty adverse effects on the mind as well, and with parents distressed over their child’s hostile behavior, psychiatrists are feeling pressured to provide a form of relief. Psychology Today points out that “today’s overstimulating high- tech environment has led to an epidemic of misdiagnosed mental disorders, which in turn lends itself to inappropriate psychotropic medication prescribing.” I believe this is a huge contribution to the mental illness increase in today’s youth.
Not all, but most causes of mental distress come from an individual’s environment. In this case, it may be right here in our screens. Experts call this Electronic Screen Syndrome. “ESS can occur in the absence of a psychiatric disorder and mimic it, or it can occur in the face of an underlying disorder, exacerbating it,” says Victoria L. Dunckley M.D.
By addressing and recognizing our own behavior, hostility may lessen as we reconnect ourselves with time away from our screens. Exercise is a much healthier stimulation for our brains, or perhaps a good book will ease our cravings. For this is not only affecting youth, but just about everyone in a developed country. Technology is no longer viewed as a luxury, but has grown into a necessity, at work or school, on the go, everywhere. So, moving forward, let’s be mindful as we try to cross the street and take BuzzFeed quizzes at the same time. We’ve all been there.
Written By Sonya