Enough snowflakes to cause an avalanche

"The mental health crisis is real, and the NHS cannot cope."


Trigger warning: Mental Health, anxiety, depression

Quarter life crisis. Existential depression. Whatever you want to call it, it has dominated my life the past few months. I’ve always had anxiety and minor panic attacks every now and then, but this is a completely different type of problem that is metaphorically bringing me to my knees searching for a solution to why we’re here and why we even bother to live if it all ends at some point anyway.

I’ve been assured that this is normal and that it’s a result of being a young person who has no immediate goals in life because I’m very satisfied with where I am in life. Stable relationship, excellent job, supportive family, and money in the bank. So what is wrong? I’m questioning why these things are even good things at all in an artificial world that we’ve created that eventually will have no meaning. That weighs very heavily on me.

I’m going to ask the editor to apply a trigger warning on this article, partly because it will annoy the likes of Piers Morgan, but partly because trigger warnings matter. There are huge numbers of people out there who suffer from mental health problems and are doing their best to get by. They don’t need to be browsing the internet like so many of us do, and then stumble across an article on depression that throws them right back into that dark place that they have fought to get out of.

YouGov recently conducted a survey and found that the NHS was the most important issue amongst young people, and this was met with scorn from mostly older men.

“They’re young and healthy, what have they got to be worried about”

Firstly, you know nothing. Secondly, that is wildly offensive and dismissive comment to make.

Do these people know just how many young people today are battling mental health problems? And it isn’t because we are snowflakes that are delicate and easily broken – it’s because the previous generation (looking again at Piers Morgan) made us this way.

We are their creation. We were socialised and developed from their DNA. If there is a generational problem, look no further than to blame the generation before us who made us this way.

I do believe that there is a problem – but dismissing it, calling us snowflakes, and making belittling comments about millennials will do nothing to fix the problem.

We are facing a mental health crisis, particularly in young people. The demands that are put on us, and the unrealistic pressures that we are facing are damn hard. We live in a social media world (thanks again, Generation Y) and we are alerted to the world around us at the press of a button. In some ways, it is remarkable. But in many other ways, a crisis is being born.

A crisis of identity, of purpose, and with those come the anxiety and depressed young people of today that will never be able to live up to those pressures. The mental health crisis is real, and the NHS cannot cope.

I am currently undertaking online-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as it was the only option that I could have access to immediately. The waiting list for face-to-face therapy is so long that I wasn’t even told how long it was. Essentially, no hope of anything. The funds and resources just aren’t being allocated to mental health provision, and young people facing the natural anxieties of life will only find their worries inflamed and made to feel unbearable. This will set them a downwards spiral of despair and hopelessness. The relevant Government departments and ministers put out warm sentiments on social media about mental health provision, and the risk of young people committing suicide, but what have they done about it? I can almost hear the sound of a middle-aged wealthy (I say wealthy because having money means you can afford private mental health care) Minster respond with the standard “record investment into the NHS” absolute rubbish that we’ve been force-fed for nearly eight years now. We see you, Theresa May – and we don’t believe you.

So whilst you try and find the nice warm words to put into a speech about tackling mental health, people are committing suicide. They are ending their lives because the anxieties and overwhelming burden that life appears to be just don’t seem to be worth it. You might not understand – but you don’t need to understand in order to recognise that it is happening.

And – unless my generation acts now – it will be so much worse for today’s children. They will be born from the generation dosed up on anti-depressants because the waiting lists for real therapy and help were too long. And I can only imagine the impact that could have on their development.

We need a real and meaningful mental health strategy, for adults and children, with free tuition and training for counsellors, therapists and psychiatrists. More funds put in to local mental health services to create shorter waiting lists, so that doctors can give their patient a real option of anti-depressants and/or talking therapy – not just pills to get by in hope that the patient will cope until the waiting list gets short enough.

So yes, middle-aged Twitter, young people do care about the NHS. Our friends and family members are dying. The Government are failing to do anything. I guess it’s up to us. If we don’t, there will be enough of us ‘snowflakes’ to create an avalanche with huge repercussions.


Kerri Prince is a Young Fabian member. You can follow her on Twitter at @_kerriprince 

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