Young people and mental health – a political issue

March 30, 2017 at 8:07 pm (Cuts, Human rights, LGBT, mental health, posted by JD, youth)

Image result for picture young people mental health

By Joe Booth (this article also appears in the present issue of Solidarity and on the Workers Liberty website)

Statistics show that help for young people with mental health issues is dramatically decreasing. A 2016 investigation by the Guardian and 38 Degrees showed that trusts around England were “drawing up plans for hospital closures and cutbacks” in an attempt to avoid a £20 billion shortfall by 2020. This means that young people aren’t getting the help they need or deserve.

Some 75% of mental health issues begin before the age of 18. The charity, MQ, estimates that on average, there are three children in every classroom with a diagnosable mental illness or unrecognised mental health problems. In January, a 16-year-old friend of my family committed suicide: she was severely depressed, and the problems in the world were hard for her to cope with.

She was not alone. 26% of young people in the United Kingdom experience suicidal thoughts. Likewise, the 44% of 16-24-year-old LGBT+ people who are frequently bullied are at a higher risk of suicide, self-mutilation and/or depression. Looked-after children and care leavers are between four and five times more likely to attempt suicide in adulthood. 18.9% of looked-after children below the age of five (19.3% of boys and 17.4% of girls) showed signs of behavioural or emotional problems.

These statistics emphasise that there are too many young people — and adults — who kill themselves, harm themselves or suffer from depression because of living under an oppressive and alienating society. Depression and self-hatred may come from loneliness or pessimism, or from alienation and oppression. We need improvements in facilities to help young people. YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

According to them, more than 850,000 children and young people in the UK have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. YoungMinds do the best they can as the leading organisation committed to philanthropically helping people, but they are limited by being a charity. Young people may receive help from this charity, or from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), but we also need to discuss and address why young people are suffering, and the ultimate solution to it.

I want to respond to the death of my family friend by learning from her and campaigning for the politics that will prevent it happening again.

We need not just philanthropy but political demands and a significant change. I think we need help groups or services to become politically radical and open to the prevention of young people harming themselves or become depressed. We need a fund or organisation that is socialistic, with an overall objective to understand why young people with mental health issues, and neurodivergent young people, commit suicide, harm themselves and/or suffer from depression, and to consider the solution to it. We need solidarity against the causes of mental ill-health and low self-esteem; we need activism and revolutionary socialist politics.


  1. Robert said,

    One of the odder aspects of superstition about “mental illness” is the case of John Maclean, who was Lenin’s ambassador in Scotland, and has had a mixed and not undistinguished or at all narrow-minded following since his untimely death.
    The relevance of Maclean here is simply that Maclean was said to have gone mad, and even to say “Maclean was said to have gone mad” would at some times in some company have invited a shouting down. Even the suggestion that there might have been an excuse for anybody to doubt Maclean’s sanity raised hackles, and voices.
    Part of this is that Lenin was told that Maclean had gone mad.

    The one fact that ought to be kept out of the noise is that Maclean was one of those men whose virtues were such as to put him in peril of what happens to pretty well anybody who works too hard and beyond their (or most people’s) personal capacities. STRESS.
    Stick a man in jail under wartime circumstances when he is as earnest as Maclean and as stressed, and you can watch the signs of normality emerge as the standard set of signs and symptoms Maclean manifested and felt.
    Maclean’s case is one of the most glaring in which superstitions about madness have confused just about everybody, or compounded confusions, with on the one side people keen to insist that he was “a loonie” and on the other an utter refusal to countenance the hypothesis that Maclean was perfectly normal and his illness the stress only laziness and an acceptance of vices keeps some people free from.

    He would presumably be horrified by the economic motives behind the encouragement of self-indulgence it doesn’t take a puritanical moralist to suggest might have something to do with mental distress among young people these days.
    Inability to keep down (stay down) with the amorality of consumerism.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Very few people know or have heard of Maclean in Scotland. Old Harry McShane survived and did not join any mainstream party.

      • Jim Denham said,

        I met Harry on several occasions when he was working with the International Socialists and the Right to Work Campaign in the early-to-mid 70’s. He was a good guy, and very friendly towards young comrades like me, even though we pestered him with no doubt, to him, tiresome questions. His autobiography No Mean Fighter is worth getting hold of.

      • Mick said,

        The Left are just so obsessed with Lenin. It’s as if he was clean.

    • Mick said,

      Communism makes you look mad or is the best system under which the dementedly tyrannical can thrive – so they lock up dissidents in mental homes, as they fear the competition.

    • Mick said,

      And the left again have no clothes on people being shouted down.

      Especially on college campuses across the West, where even other lefty celebrities have to watch every word in the name of censorsh… free speech and open debate.

  2. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Political and religious belief could be the cause of mental health issues.

    • Mick said,

      Not to mention ‘transgender’ people being messed up all the further by the left, giving them 56 monopoly-money ‘genders’ to pick from. That’s killing with kindness.

      It’s one issue to stop bullying – which kids do – and quite another to indulge incredibly serious delusions and disorders, which doctors say LGBT people suffer from in cocktails. This results in questioning the leftist hive mind, as Germaine Greer does, and being called a bully for doing so.

  3. Mick said,

    Help those kids. We know more about them and can sort them out where they are in need.

    However, it’s another of the left’s wheezes to champion mental health issues, the silly little slugs.

    As on this site, I’ve been called demented and all sorts by leftists as a matter of course. So much for the left wing line about not objectifying and turning problems into insults.

    I don’t mind but it shows the Reds up again.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Mick anyone who disagrees with the looney left is radio rental. Just accept it Mick you are daft! Pack your emergency rations for the Momentum Gulag.

      • Mick said,

        Hmm. I’m afraid Hull Labour council pipped us to the post with that kind of idea, with last year’s recycling re-education camp ‘initiative’.

  4. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Jim, I attended Harry’s birthday celebration in the Mitchell Theatre.

  5. Janine Booth said,

    What unhelpful and ignorant comments from Mick, equating mental ill-health with tyranny. The vast majority of people experiencing mental health problems are not tyrants and dictators. And no-one ever makes an issue of mentally-healthy tyrants being mentally healthy, do they?

  6. Janine Booth said,

    i don’t know much about John Maclean’s mental health problems, but the comments on that are interesting. It seems to me that if you live in an oppressive society, are conscious of that oppression, and are persecuted for your resistance to it, then becoming mentally distressed is an understandable and rational response. There may be a greater case for worrying about people who live in this irrational and oppressive world and remain totally calm about it!

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Some people are told they are oppressed for political purposes. We Scots are oppressed if you would listen go the nationalists and the poor Irish have always been oppressed. They even make up sad songs about it.

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