(NaturalNews) Are we putting too much pressure on our kids? According to Natasha Devon, the UK government’s mental health expert, we are. Speaking at a meeting of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents private school heads, she said that our children are in danger of being wrongly “medicalized” to treat depression symptoms when all they need is better counseling and less weight put on their shoulders.
According to ChildStats.gov, child depression has a significant impact on future life. It can affect school and work performance, impair peer and family relationships, and exacerbate the severity of other health conditions such as asthma and obesity.
In 2013, about 11 percent of U.S. children, aged between 12 and 17, experienced a major depressive episode. For adolescent girls, that number even went up to 16 percent.
Overmedicating our children
Natasha Devon has been working in schools since 2007 and has talked to as much as 500 students a week. She discusses topics such as body image, banter, bullying and mental health. While she claims that there will always be children who are “genetically destined” to have a mental illness, she concedes many are just responding to things happening to them.
“If a child is being bullied and they have symptoms of depression because they are being bullied, what they need is for the bullying to stop. They need to feel safe again. They don’t necessarily need anti-depressants or therapy.”
She notes that today’s children face greater pressure than any other generation. Cyberbullying, online porn and heightened exam pressures are all putting extra weight on their shoulders. Antidepressants do not solve these problems.
“It’s my belief that many of these struggles could be avoided if we get our approach right,” she said, as reported by the Daily Mail. “And if we don’t, we’re giving with one hand and taking away with the other. And we run the risk of medicalising childhood. … You cannot apply an adult amount of pressure to a child’s brain and expect them to cope.”
Growing up is so much harder these days
When we were growing up, we surely had some pressure to deal with, too. But one needs some positive stress to accomplish things, right?
However, Devon said that today’s children have more things that they don’t need, and they have less of what they do need. Parents work long hours, and family life is limited to TV time. Schools have become very competitive, and being average or just good won’t cut it anymore. And the ever present accessibility to the internet complicates the situation as well.
“Online, children face cyber bullying, advertising which tells them they’re not good enough, pornography, airbrushed lives,” Devon said.
Health services and councils are often failing to provide support for these issues. As a result, millions of children worldwide are on antidepressants, when they should just be getting the right help to relieve the pressure put on their shoulders.
“We need to feel safe, we need to feel nurtured, and we need to feel valued,” Devon said. “And if we don’t meet these basic needs in our children, we risk them growing up not only without a sense of passion but also with low self-esteem. We need to ask ourselves what is causing mental health problems in the first place.”