I write this in the midst of a societal crisis, but not the crisis you’re thinking of. As Covid continues to dominate the headlines, something has been forgotten about. The crisis we’re speaking about is mental illness. The old news stories that once shocked us such as school shootings in the US, gang stabbings in the UK and teen suicides worldwide are all but a distant memory now…..but they’re still happening. And come Saturday, on World Mental Health day, it will get the attention that it should get all year around. People will share stories, the helpline numbers and advise people to talk for the day, and then it’ll be forgotten. And as you’re reading this, you have a lack of care, not because you don’t care about the topic, but because you don’t want to feel any responsibility for the collective guilt that we as a society have developed. We’re too worried about the pandemic or too busy so we’re left with the option to listen to the tragedies and then ignore them. Even if they’re geographically near, they’re mentally distant. “That’s terrible,” we say, as we continue with our day, while someone else is told that a friend, a sibling, a daughter, a son; has killed themselves. As I said, a societal crisis.
The World is Changing
Covid with all of its devastating impacts, has highlighted an important matter: The world can turn on its head quickly. It is likely that the world we have become accustomed to might never be the same again. But this hasn’t changed for children. Adolescence is still tough. Academic expectations, making friends, finding yourself, hormones, the list goes on. Throw in a lack of routine because of lockdown, constant bombardment of negative news, and a threat of contracting something that can kill you and your family and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Covid has changed our day to day stresses. For example, people who were formally worried about incidents at work might now be stressed about getting a new job. For school children, the problems haven’t changed. They’ve just been added on. On top of blended learning and supporting others, they’re still trying to fit in. And they’re not only trying to fit into school now; they’re trying to fit into someone they will never be: their social media avatars. Children today want a number of friends never attainable, physical attractiveness that can never be reached, and a life that simply does not exist: A dog trying to catch its own tail. And if you choose not to play the game? Well then you lose by default. You don’t benefit other kids’ social status’ so you’re alienated or bullied. Welcome to the vicious cycle of adolescence. So we have a clear problem, but there doesn’t seem to be many solutions. As I said, a societal crisis; and the consequences are grave.
At the age of 12, Evan Ziemniak hung himself because he could not escape the severe bullying he experienced at school. 15-year-old Tallulah Wilson was a gifted ballerina who suffered from mental health issues. She took her own life by jumping in front of a train. This was the final straw for her friend, Mary Troman, who was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder because of sexual assault. Shortly after Tallulah’s fatality, Mary left suicide notes before being found dead by the same means of suicide. And finally, 6-year-old Samantha Kuberski had an argument with her parents, which resulted in her being sent to her room. She left, threatening to kill herself. She then proceeded to go to her room and hang herself from a belt attached to a crib. And I know what some parents are thinking. “This isn’t happening to my child”. But why take the risk? Your child might not be drowning but that doesn’t mean he or she knows how to swim.
Society is very much broken. Kids taking their own lives is now some form of sick entertainment for the media. They inform the public, who consumes these tragedies with total normality so they can tell everyone else how terrible it is, and everybody gets on with their lives until it happens again. The media are misrepresenting the issue; the government is blaming others, while children continue to suffer. Everyone is aware of the problem, but nobody is searching for a solution. A societal crisis.
What We Can Change
I understand that some of you will regard this post as quite dark but it’s trying to put a critical lens on the situation today. Look at the issue from the perspective of those families and friends who have suffered. Suicide itself is an absolutely vile circumstance but when it comes to children, it is unexplainably disgusting. Regardless of our education, our nationality, our political alignment, we can all agree that no child should ever be put in a situation where they feel they have to kill themselves. And we’re not looking for sympathy. We’re looking for change. Take a moment and realize that this is a situation that can be prevented. What the news has not broadcasted is that the general suicide rate has decreased over the past year. Why? Because people are now providing help for adults in need.
So imagine the change we could make if we teach children how to manage their mental health before problems arise? This is our light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve been shown that our efforts can result in lives saved but far more work needs to be done. This is why Motus has been set up. Rather than waiting for the problems to arise, we’re trying to not only prevent them, but also find the true potential of every individual. This societal crisis has obstructed childrens’ happiness and that is something we simply cannot stand for.
While we are extremely busy ensuring that we help as many children as we can, this blog will be used to remind ourselves about why we are putting in the hard work. Along the way, we plan to document all our victories, no matter how big or small, and intend to teach all of you about the importance of emotional intelligence. All we ask in return is that you spread the word. Join the Motus Movement because every child has a right to happiness. Welcome to our journey, and I hope you enjoy.
The Motus Movement.