Why millennials are struggling with mental health issues

opinion piece

In a world where we compete to look like we are living our best life on social media, how many of us can honestly say we are truly happy?

Putting on a false smile in front of the camera, teeth gleaming, hair blowing in the wind – all whilst having a panic attack, intense palpitations, sweats of bead building on your palms. Look at you. You’re a walking contradiction. Your 10k followers on Instagram believe you lead the perfect life, but behind closed doors you often have dark intrusive thoughts. Penetrating thoughts that lead you to believe that you are worthless, lazy and a failure.

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Whilst social media may heighten the pressure young people feel to portray a perfect life style, it is far from the only issue contributing to mental health declination. Just imagine being trapped at your parental home until the ripe age of at least 28, working the most tedious job because employers won’t employ you in the sector you desire to work in; due to lack of ‘’experience’’- yet no one will give you a chance to gain experience. £40,000 worth of debt just to educate yourself, which in turn seems pointless as no one will give you a break? Brexit talks heighten the air of uncertainty. Political misdemeanour’s (corporate manslaughter at Grenfell Tower) and austerity push everyone to the limit both financially and socially. Young males being stabbed all around you on a daily basis. This is just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on.

Would you want to live like this? Choosing between having children or a stable career? Working full time and still not being able to afford decent food?

Sounds like a really messed up Hollywood film right? Because this is the reality of how most millennials are living right now.

I believe that our generation are struggling. It is not entirely impossible to succeed in the current climate; it just takes a lot of determination and discipline. But naturally we mustn’t forget that all these factors can contribute to a person’s mental state and well-being.  Life in your twenties is naturally a time of self-discovery, finding yourself and who you truly want to be. With these added societal pressures, both off-line and online, it can become overwhelmingly destructive for some people. Individuals will always have personal issues, and these need to be reviewed individually. However, at a time in your life where you yearn to progress and the system keeps beating you down, it is completely de-motivating for young people.

Unfortunately we cannot change politics, or at least the negative trickling effects it can have on us. But what we can change is our attitudes towards mental health. If you see someone updating a Facebook status stating how depressed they are, instead of calling them an attention seeker learn to see it as a cry for help. There have already been so many suicides this year committed by young people. Simple gestures and listening can have the power to help mental health sufferers. We have to keep pushing for change, more recognition, more funding for mental health services.

As fucked up as this system is, it is never going to beat me.  

Yours Sincerely,

Michelle (A struggling journalist pushing for a break)

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It all falls down

opinion piece

”It seems we living the American dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem.”

As Kanye once stated; back when he used to rap about meaningful issues. Before he progressed to make a song about a gold digger and then marry one. Anyway that’s an issue for discussion another day.

Although he is directly referring to the hypocrisy of the ”American dream”, the capitalistic mentality so deeply regimented into American society is very much parallel to here in the UK. What he is implying is that the people who have it all in terms of material goods, those who are ”rich”. Are only thought of as rich in a capitalist society. They buy things in order to make themselves feel better, to hide insecurities. And, perhaps an addiction to retail stems from insecurity.

No-one can deny Kanye’s point. We’ve all been there. Sitting in your bedroom alone on a Saturday night, maybe things in your life aren’t going fantastically. You feel slightly down, but guess what. Buying that gorgeous pair of Kurt Geiger stiletto’s will make you feel better. It will uplift you, the products themselves may even give you confidence when wearing them. But they won’t fix your problems.

When it comes to consumerist culture there is a lot of overlap from all industries; however I feel the fashion industry is often a target for being a representation of capitalism. It’s true that how you dress and what you wear is often viewed as a representation of character; and people will, no doubt judge you for it. You can make so many assumptions based on what someone is wearing. I think particularly as females in western society its almost too easy to be influenced. For example, if you see a girl wearing beaten down converses; you’d probably assume she’s a relaxed, down to earth girl. Probably the kinda girl you can go for long walks to the park with, and doesn’t care too much for her appearance. On the other hand if you see a pristine looking female wearing 11 inch red bottoms – which you know are worth at least £500 -you’ll be staring in awe. She’s that girl. She’s the bitch you love to hate, you want to know her, you want to be in her position. Heck, you just want to be her.

It’s wrong to make these assumptions, and they can often be false. But the stereotypes and the connotations exist nevertheless. And they are one of the reasons we all strive to have a wardrobe brimming with designer names.

But I have a huge criticism of this theory; and I have a problem with accepting that everyone who wants to wear designer brands is a shallow narcissistic materialistic airhead. It isn’t true. Perhaps, quality matters. Maybe just maybe instead of buying a £10 Primark bag which will probably disintegrate after six weeks, or investing in a £350 Louis Vuitton bag which will last you years upon years, is actually a wise investment. I’ll give you a real life example. I drove a Ford KA the other day; aside from the fact I almost crashed it because of the sheer inefficiency of the brakes (still passed it’s MOT though, god knows how), it felt like there was no power steering. Such a tiny car, and yet so difficult to manoeuvre. It felt like moving a tank. I’m used to the drive of my BMW, all cars will get you from a to b. But it’s 2015, you can’t be driving without adequate power steering, to me this is dangerous. It’s not even a matter of taste or preference, I’m pretty sure everyone when driving needs to feel comfortable and confident in the piece of machinery they are moving. It is an offensive weapon at the end of the day. Point being that it doesn’t make me a snob because I prefer my BMW. It’s better in every aspect. Why wouldn’t you prefer it?

Infact, we needn’t even justify our decisions to buy quality. Maybe we just like nice things. And maybe we don’t value these nice things more then, say, spending quality time with family or loyalty or trust.

Maybe it’s just surface value, and maybe judging based on surface value makes you as superficial as the people you assumed were superficial.

Retail addiction is real, I suffer from it also. And I do think I genuinely need help. I can’t even go into Sainsbury’s for food shopping without buying some unnecessary items; usually make-up related. *shake my head*. But, on the other hand having an addiction to buying things isn’t harming anyone. Everyone has their own fixations; and unlike smoking which will turn your lungs black and give you nasty cat-bum mouth, and alcohol which will ruin your liver, and probably your libido. Shopping doesn’t harm you or your body. Beware to the harm it may do to your bank account though.

These examples are microcosms of society at large. But the even bigger problem I have is that we keep blaming capitalism. Who is capitalism? Capitalism is merely a political structure, an ideology. Yes I agree there are several faults, and hypocrisies within a capitalistic structure. To the point that I identify almost 99% with Marxism when it comes to political social views.

Capitalism is naturally criminogenic, within an economic context it also breeds monopoly. This is what we have within the media industry, and indeed the fashion industry, and probably every other industry in the western societies. But monopolisation is a man-made concept. It stems from greed. And greed is a human trait. We’ve gotta stop blaming the system, and actually consider the fact that what feasible alternatives are there to capitalism? We are all criticising it, but we haven’t thought of any realistic alternatives in the meantime.

There’s always communism, but you only have to look at the state of Russia to see how that works. Yeaaaah, no way. Communism does not progress, it causes society to become stagnant. It’s a wonderful idea on paper. Everyone is equal, we are all going to share everything equally. It sounds like something sickly Ned Flaunders would come up with. But it does not work in real life context.

Until we find an acceptable alternative (if we ever do); which I doubt will ever happen because capitalism works for the industrialists. It works for corrupt politicians. It works for the royal family. Infact, it works for all the elite. But, next time your about to judge someone for wearing Jimmy Choo shoes instead of New look heels. Think again, because we have brains. And we aren’t drones to capitalism. Each and everyone of us is responsible for how we act, we have free will. And we gotta stop blaming capitalism for everything. But I really could do with a new Chanel bag. Can’t be seen in last seasons designs can I?