Your teens need you!

We are approaching a crisis. It hasn’t been caused by a tweet by Donald Trump, and it wasn’t even Kim Jong-Un or Putin. It is a crisis of our own doing, because of our own naivety over the effects of modern life on those growing up on the internet.

Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. With all the problems we have to deal with, is this such a surprise? Frankly, my only surprise is that the number is not higher. Perhaps this wouldn’t be such a heartbreaking issue in society if these young people got the help they needed, but this isn’t the case. We aren’t getting the help we need, and when we do, it is often too late. As a young person myself I’ve had my fair share of dealings with mental health issues. I’ve got friends who are depressed, I’ve got friends with anxiety. I’ve got friends of friends who have committed suicide.

I can barely joke with some friends about wanting to die, because half the time I’m scared they aren’t joking.

Mental health is inseparable from any other aspects of life growing up. I can’t speak for the generations before me, but it seems like it’s harder than ever to be young and impressionable. We may be safer than ever, physically. We don’t go out as much, or stay out as late. We have sex later on in life and there’s been a decline in teen pregnancy. However, mentally, we are so at risk that we are approaching a crisis, and barely anyone is noticing.

You can’t go anywhere without seeing unobtainable ideals. Social media is here, and it’s here to stay. Don’t blame platforms, better yet, blame a lack of a decent support system for our young people. Technology is advancing fast, but mental health provisions still seem stuck in the 80s (that’s a long time ago for some of us!).

We vaccinate our kids, we put plasters on their cuts, we even make sure they eat their 5-a-day (or is it more these days?). So why don’t we also look after their mental health? The two are obviously interlinked but we need to look at early intervention in young people’s mental health more. We need to arm kids with the resources to ask for help with their mental health.

The fact of the matter is, pumping money into early intervention – now – is logical. Cold-heartedly, it’s cheaper for the tax payer in the long run. We need to get this sorted now. People are being left behind by the system (how I cringe at the use of ‘system’, but there we go). Spending months on waiting lists is no good when intervention is needed right now. Time does not heal all wounds – definitely not when it comes to a young person reaching crisis.

We’re not angry enough about this. Get angry. We should be angry that my generation, future generations, your kids, your grandkids, aren’t getting the support they need.

I recently read somewhere that the 2007/2008 financial crisis has left my generation in despair. This doesn’t surprise me either. We have to pay more university tuition fees than anyone else ever has. We are Generation Rent. We probably won’t own our own homes. On top of it all, you thought the Cold War was over? Ha, you thought wrong. We are more educated than ever, we will live longer, but ultimately we will feel like nothing will ever be enough when compared to Karen from Facebook with her perfect life. Is it any surprise most of us feel pretty depressed? We aren’t all ‘snowflakes’, but admit it, we have it hard. All we’re asking for is the right support, before all this gets out of hand.

You can’t change social media. You can’t change human behaviour. We can’t hold back the tide of time. What we can change is how we deal with this situation. The solution is obvious.

The solution: better early intervention. Equip us with the skills to help ourselves.

 

SO…

I tried to keep it relatively short and sweet. That’s the first proper blog post I’ve ever done. Let me know how awful it was, I would really appreciate it.

I could chat back and forth about this for hours, don’t hesitate to follow and DM me on Twitter (@HollyWrighttt_). I’ve actually been involved in a project helping to change the way mental health is dealt with in my area; I’ve also been involved in an awareness event. I’m totally up for discussing this also.

I thought I’d start off with something that isn’t controversial – something cross-party that everyone should throw their support behind. Anything you want me to expand on – sign me up, just let me know.

That’s all folks.

 

 

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Teachers don’t stop being human beings when they start teaching

As a student interested in politics myself, political impartiality of teachers comes up often. Just yesterday a friend and I were wondering of the political leanings of a new teacher of ours. Teachers don’t stop being human beings when they start teaching. They’re still entitled to freedom of expression and freedom of speech. They still have their own bias and leanings, like anyone else. When teaching the subject content a teacher shouldn’t bring these biases into the class. However, it’s not just teaching that takes place in class. Students and their teachers develop a relationship that goes beyond that of ‘you give me information for my exams and I absorb it’. If you ask your teacher for an opinion, then you shouldn’t be mad when their response isn’t what you wanted. It sounds obvious, but for some it isn’t. If you ask a teacher for their opinion and they give it to you without trying to convince you to agree with them, then what’s the harm? In fact it’ll build a better relationship with them. At least, it will if you’re willing to respect that they may disagree with you. 

I go to a very left wing sixth form and many of the teachers are similarly left wing. We on the right are few and far between. I’ve had to defend one of my own teacher’s right to an opinion before, but it wasn’t as liberal as many were expecting. He offered his opinion when asked, explained his reasoning and in no way tried to say that this was the right opinion to have. Needless to say, it didn’t end well. 

It’s worth noting that I’m a sixth form student, studying humanities subjects in a college where all students are 16 and above – there’s some students near 20 years of age. 

If you’re 16 years of age and you can’t tell when someone is being bias, then you’re probably not going to do very well in your A-Levels.  

In cases where teachers are enforcing their opinion and offering it when no one wants it, this is something that should be taken up with the headteacher. For example, the case of Conservative MP Bob Stewart’s son, this was a complete breach of the teacher’s duty of care. It was blatant bullying. 

In earlier years of education, even at GCSE level, teachers should ensure that students are aware when they’re offering an opinion. 

In humanities subjects, such as English, the line between what is fact and what is opinion can be blurred. However, a good teacher should be able to encourage a wide range of opinions, offering their own, without one becoming the ‘right’ one. 

Don’t take away a teacher’s rights because of a select few. Censoring our teachers is a slippery slope. 

You want to raise army numbers? Understand British youths

This post is a quick response to this article: https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2017/09/mark-francois-more-women-more-ethnic-minorities-medical-testing-reform-what-must-be-done-to-raise-army-numbers.html
Firstly, Francois makes the point that more young people are staying on in education until they’re 18. This is the case because it’s now the law. Young people have to do one of the following until they’re 18:

* stay in full-time education, for example at a college

* start an apprenticeship or traineeship 

* spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training

Young people can’t leave school at 16 and just get a job. If he means that less people are joining up aged 16, then I would direct him to Nick Carter’s thoughts from back in July of this year. Carter spoke about the implication of the public support being “very much based on sympathy and not necessarily empathy”. I believe he touched on how parents and teachers aren’t encouraging young people to sign up in a way that they, perhaps, used to. 

In terms of encouraging more ethnic minorities and women to join up, I’d argue this isn’t as simple a solution as it appears. Showing that the armed forces is an inclusive environment – not just for white men – is important for recruitment. However I don’t think it’ll boost numbers as much as they hope. As Francois alludes to himself, it’s young people we should be focusing our attentions on, ensuring the next generations want to join up. We should be looking at long term solutions, as well as these short term ideas. 

It goes without saying that medical testing should be reviewed, but standards shouldn’t be lowered to boost numbers. The phrase “quality, not quantity” springs to mind. 

Another idea he offered was increased lateral recruitment. It sounds like an interesting idea, but one that wouldn’t put more boots on the ground, if needs be. 

Finally, awareness in young people is key. As I’ve said, young people are key to a long term solution. However, I doubt bringing Armed Forces into the National Curriculum will work. Francois speaks like someone who has never sat in a modern PSE/citizenship less. We don’t learn about Parliament or the workings of democracy. We don’t even get told how taxes work. From my experience, these lessons are focused on sex education, and not much more. The idea isn’t completely silly, but if you want a programme that’ll inform young people on their society, then you’re going to need to reform how they receive it. An hour every two weeks will not cover all the topics that, apparently, we’re meant to be being taught. 

As I read the article, the main problem that stood out to me was the clear lack of understanding of how students go through education. Although Mark Francois makes some excellent points about army recruitment, I found the article symptomatic of a society that doesn’t understand how it’s young people are educated. As a young person this is what particularly concerned me. 

#notalltories

In my last post I spoke about why there isn’t a strong youth movement in the Conservative Party. Activate has proved my point exactly. The reason Activate crashed and burned so badly is, in part, due to their part in proving people right about the tories. 

Tories are expected to make the kind of awful jokes made by these members of Activate in the WhatsApp screenshots. Tories are expected to be condescending rich boys who hate on those less fortunate. 

If we want to do well in elections, if we want to have a youth movement, if we want to be a party that deserves to lead, then we need to overcome this kind of behaviour. 

We cannot tolerate this kind of behaviour. Homophobes, racists, bigots – people who negatively discriminate – have no place in the Conservative Party either. We need to be clear about this. 

Not all Tories are like those in Activate. Not all Tories are the bigots Labour paint us to be either. Let’s prove them wrong by having no tolerance for disrespectful behaviour. 

We can’t be the party of the future if there are some amongst us who are stuck in the past. 

There’s hope though. The reaction amongst the vast majority of people has been condemnation. Many are outraged by what’s been said. Many are disappointed too, you’re meant to be the next generation, and this is how you’re acting? I’m sure they’ve learnt their lesson. 

Let’s not give up hope for the Conservative youth. 

The Lack of Conservative Youth Movement 

There’s been a lot of talk about encouraging young people to get involved in the Conservatives. It’s an age group dominated by the Left. Unsurprisingly, there’s a myriad of reasons for this, but going over them again and again isn’t going to change anything. What the Conservatives need to be doing is telling people it’s okay to be a Tory. I’ve spent my entire life assuming Tory = bad, but if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know this definitely isn’t the case anymore. 

I’m from Wales, but I live in Newcastle. I’m from a working class family, with many members having worked in NHS. My not so distant ancestors were miners. So naturally I grew up thinking if I was going to be a politician I’d spend my time battling against the nasty tories. 

Who would’ve thought I’d have joined the club instead?

The main turning point for me was the realisation that it’s okay to be a Tory. It’s okay to think of different solutions to your mates. 

I don’t come from a political family, if we ever talk politics it’s only because I’ve brought it up. My mum voted for the first time in 2015, with much encouragement from me. It’s not something we talked about. 

Then I started looking into it all. Then I started doing my A Levels. Then I met real life Tories. Tories who were my age and unapologetic. I say Tories (plural), it’s more Tory (singular). 

I’ve been known as the loudmouth who wants to be Prime Minister for a long time now, and people have assumed I’d be a Labour Prime Minister. It’s only recently that people have found out my deep, dark, dirty secret. 

Through fact, logic and explanation I’ve had to constantly defend my position on everything – too right too. However, it’s had unexpected consequences. I’ve managed to do some conversions in the process. I deeply believe it’s simply down to the fact that I’ve presented an alternative argument. It’s not all black and white. It’s not Labour = good and Tories = bad. And, most of all, it’s okay to be Tory. By being unapologetically Tory – by being outspoken – I’ve managed to show people the Conservative way of thinking. 

That’s what we need. 

We need more young people to embrace Conservatism by letting them know it’s okay. 

Labour like to tie morality in with politics, making it look like a moral decision to think of a different way to get from A to B. Young people are buying into this, but it’s simply not true. The commonly held beliefs about the Conservatives and the truth are very different things. 

Which party has given us our two female Prime Ministers?

Which party legalised same-sex marriage?

Which party is wrongly tied to ideas of bigotry and discrimination?

Both Labour and the Conservatives need to work on ensuring discrimination is not allowed to grow within the party, but it’s not as cut and dry as it looks. 

If you want a youth base, then grow it, cultivate it. Tell people the facts. Show people the facts. Show young people that getting from A to B doesn’t have to be through socialism. No one wants poverty to increase, but we have different ways of solving the problem. It’s not “right” or “wrong” to do it one way or the other, it’s not a moral question. 

I’ve had people be disgusted with me because of my views, but once I’ve explained why I’ve come to the conclusions I have, it’s a different story. 

Social media encourages us to live in echo chambers. We follow people with similar views. 

So get a conversation going. Encourage people to have a conversation about politics that doesn’t end in someone calling you “Tory scum”, and you might be surprised at the results.