… And in my eyes
The fuel to the fire = MEDIA
Anxiety & Depression: The Low Down.
Anxiety, simply described, is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Depression on the other hand is an overwhelming feeling of unhappiness that can last for days, weeks or months. With both of these disorders effecting 4% of children aged 5 to 16 in the UK, we must understand how children at such a young age are effected to prevent this developing in older age as meekly put, it’s a growing mental health problem that is spiralling out of control.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
So, what does the media have to do with all this?
I’m talking to you right now through a form of media. We’re surrounding by it 24/7, whether that’s on our phones, on your family TV or passing a poster down the street. The volume of media around us is INSANE but are we spending perhaps too much time wrapped up in it?
The Independent correlated that the average Brit checks their phone up to 28 times a day and counting. Many health specialists believe this causes tension on real life problems staggering into detrimental effects on self-esteem and human connection. A survey revealed that 41% of Generation Z individuals from a pool of 1000 felt anxious and depressed when using social media platforms. This phenomenon continues through the likes of mass media where success is in the spotlight. Not only from the likes of airbrushing of photos but the likes of TV reality series and advertisements, success is driven in to us, the need to embody perfection is driven in to us. Were taught to be airbrushed, to show the best of the life we lead, to live filtered lives. Media is controlling this. Immense pressure on young adults as a result leads to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
An interview with a student, Katie, who nearly gave up her life for cyberbullying was a huge strike for me. “My depression was beyond me, my anxiety around social media triggered panic attacks to the point I couldn’t breathe and my self-esteem around reality TV was an all-time low”. Stories similar to this are all too familiar. Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old girl, suffered severe depression and anxiety induced by interactivity and excessive accessibility to trolls. Katie went on to “blame the media, every part of it is toxic. Magazines, TV and social media, they work together and are slowly deteriorating young people like me”.
Can Media be Good?
It’s not all bad and ugly. The media is in grave danger when it comes to mental health, but has it become aware of this? Is it changing for the better? The media have recently surged in highlighting mental health and searching for ways to help those in need. From helplines on TV shows, awareness posters and huge influencers the likes of Zoella and Daniel Howell opening up about their struggles with anxiety and depression, the media have pushed publicising and openly offering information to encourage those to come forward and finally end the stigma around mental health.
Has this all paid off?
YES! The government have announced a £2 billion real terms increase in mental health funding that could see mental health support available in every large A&E department across the nation. Not only is high status politics getting involved but the royal family are too! Catharine, William and Harry have joined the charity ‘Head Together’ to support funding and awareness. Watch this video to hear their thoughts on the pressures on young individuals and mental health strains.
Video source: headstogether.org.uk
The Nitty & Gritty: Who’s to Blame?
It’s a hard question to answer. The media have impacted mental health is so many ways. It’s had its ups and its downs. But which outweighs the other? The media have changed the way we live and with that have endorsed many issues involving external pressures. The continuous and consistent strain, of both real life and mediated productions, have unrealistic views of success and that of ‘perfect lives’ that are instigating great levels of depression and anxiety. On the other hand, the media have fought back and really got stuck in with fighting this stigma and combating accusations. In my eyes, they are still the fuel to the fire and are a long way off justifying media’s big responsibility in the role they play in mental health. Do you think their spark can be put out? How do you think the media can change to help better conditions of depression and anxiety?
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UP NEXT: TV & FILM: THE REPRESNTATION OF MENTAL ILLNESSES