The Art of Expressing Depression
Are you spending endless time scrolling through your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat notifications? Depression among youths is now linked to the growing use of digital devices, according to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). The more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to get anxious and depressed.
Social isolation and loneliness are key issues that can affect anyone at any point in their life. The reality is that social media has contributed to isolation and loneliness among young people. Scottish people that report high levels of anti-social behaviour in their community are 30 to 50% more likely to experience feelings of loneliness, a Scottish Government report has shown.
More than half of 18-24 year olds Scots experience depression out of loneliness, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Forty-two percent of young people suggest that depression leads to anxiety whilst 67% believes their mental health worsens as a result of feeling lonely.
While depression has been reported to be common among youths in Scotland, the stigma of loneliness remains the greatest stumbling block to seeking help. Forty six per cent of Scotland’s young people say they would be too embarrassed to talk about it and 52% feel they ought to cope with the problem themselves. Over a quarter (27%) do not feel they have enough support to talk about mental health in their school, college, university, or workplace, Scottish Association for Mental Health research has shown.
In Scotland, Youth Community Support Agency (YCSA) is currently engaging with those that are at risk of social exclusion and on the fringes of society- young people deemed ‘hard to reach’. The organisation’s main goal is to identify the specific and individual needs of the young person and develop a specialised and targeted support system to help reduce depression among the youth population.
Poetry and music have been shown to have an impact on the young people within Scotland. Through poetry, music and film, YCSA has made it possible for the young adults to see things in a way they have not seen before.
“No matter how dark it seems; you are never alone. There are so many young people who have a hard life. Being part of a social group will reduce all the anxiety and depression and give you so much excitement”-Vanessa Fuentes
Clare McBrien, programme lead at YCSA said: “Engaging the youths with creative thinking excites them. We need to acknowledge the important role that poetry, music, and filming play in actively involving the young people in creative thinking. Creative processes give them the opportunity to understand themselves and to be heard.”
Isha Hakeem, 17, discussed the benefits of joining YCSA: “learning how to write and narrate poems has enabled me to shape how I perceive the world. Through poetry, I can express my depressions. I am now confident about speaking to people. I am grateful to YCSA.”
Vanessa Fuentes, a volunteer at YCSA said: “No matter how dark it seems; you are never alone. There are so many young people who have a hard life. Being part of a social group will reduce all the anxiety and depression and give you so much excitement”.
Young people who are heavy users of social media – spending more than two hours per day on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – are more likely to report poor mental health, according to RSPH research. Four of the five most used social media platforms contribute to making their feelings of anxiety worse. Depression is associated with a lack of societal acceptance, no emotional connection, and low levels of self-esteem. It is key for young people to be made aware of activities that will give them stable mental well-being.
McBrien added: “It appears that most young people are not keenly listened to. If we can reach out to the young people, create engaging platforms of discussion around challenges faced by young people and treat them with respect, then I believe that the young people would be more willing to recognise and admit that they are struggling”.
Although reducing social media could prove difficult in the modern day among youngsters, YCSA is offering alternatives for balancing online and offline time. Their model of holistic in-house and outdoor activities has enriched the creative and innovative potential of young people in Scotland.