New figures show UK children unhappiest due to bullying


I always felt as though my rants about the education system and our culture in this country were misguided or even unfounded. So hearing the results of this study today, I feel vindicated and able to say with confidence that we need to do something about the state of our children’s mental health, and to address the arguably wider issue of the causes behind such a low self-esteem and wellbeing.

Only South Korea came below the UK for unhappiness at school, with Algeria, Ethiopia, South Africa and Israel’s children having better experiences at school. Perhaps most upsettingly for me, girls in this country are crippled by insecurity over their looks – coming bottom of the table for ‘satisfaction with their looks’ and ‘body confidence’.
This is something I talk about a lot – the fact that as a ‘first world country’ we are actually anything but rich, other than financially of course. We pity the children that play in the dirt outside crumbling houses, yet we fail to see that our own are in emotional turmoil, dealing with events which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. 

Bullying shaped me beyond belief for many – who can’t comprehend that this was ‘the only thing’ behind the severely poor mental health which plagued me for years, and the residual effects I deal with now. I had a safe, happy childhood, with no other outside influences which would have caused me to feel I wasn’t good enough. But how can you underestimate the effects of being told (and shown, almost like proof) that you are inadequate and ugly all day, every day, for a significant number of years – all at that crucial stage in life where you are just discovering who you want to be? The bullying I suffered turned me into a very young person with a very real hatred of myself – a person who continually tried to self-destruct even after I left secondary school. In fact, had I have died at any point as a result of Anorexia or depression, it would have been directly caused by the bullying I endured. Further research has shown that bullying at school is the cause or catalyst for a myriad of mental health problems, which stay with the person in question for life.

I am immensely worried following the publication of these figures. I would have liked to have been proved wrong. So the question now I suppose is: how can we stop this from happening? What can we do to save our children from cripplingly poor low self-esteem at best, and a life-threatening mental illness at worse?
Since we can’t string bullies up (or even discipline them properly) like the good old days, it has to start with us, and with schools. We need to be able to offer children who are suffering a different perspective – to empower them to live their lives without the damaging influence of others being so dominating. We also need to set s better example for young people outside of school. As adults, we need to stop bullying each other – sending the message that it’s okay to do so – whether that’s people we know, or pointing the finger at celebrities or people in the public eye.

As women especially, it is our responsibility to try to put our own body issues aside for the sake of our young and to campaign for the abolition of this stereotypical ‘ideal’ which makes so many of us unhappy – not to mention influencing young girls to have the same hang ups we do.

These aren’t the only solutions of course, but they are a place to start. If not, I worry we may find our already pushed mental health services will be inundated in years to come with the thousands young people we didn’t bother to look out for now.



UK children unhappiest due to bullying…


Why are more of us having ‘quarter life crises’?


It’s a term that’s being banded around a lot lately – ‘Quarter life Crisis’. A variation on the well-known ‘Mid-Life Crisis’ suffered predominantly by males (which I’m told involves running off with women half your age and buying a sports car), it seems to now be a phenomenon afflicting the 20-30 year olds of the first world.

But what exactly constitutes a ‘Quarter Life Crisis’? Surely people of this age shouldn’t be experiencing any sort of anguish – they should be too busy having fun, right?

But that is just one of the pressures and expectations laid on youngsters by society which makes this time a difficult one. Conventions and socially acceptable practices are changing rapidly, but are also shackled by old-style mentalities. For example, women are expected to go to university and follow a decent, respectable career, to be independent. Yet if a woman is living alone and not married by 30, she is whispered about and constantly reminded of her ‘biological clock’, however successful her career is. We are all obsessed with material things and competing in futile desperation to be ‘the best’ at life – but only by society’s standards. In the back of our minds, our own values and dreams remind us occasionally of what we really want, but cannot bring ourselves to break from convention to obtain.

Not only should we be having fun in our twenties, we should also be building a solid career and saving for a house and for the point at which our lives suddenly become full of unavoidable responsibility. Fresh out of university or battling your way through the dark, unforgiving forest of employment, it’s enough just to pay rent, council tax and heating bills, let alone save for a deposit and mortgage on a meagre wage AND have money to spend on copious amounts of alcohol and expensive holidays .

As I touch on in a previous post, you can’t do it all. And I think that’s what a Quarter Life Crisis is all about – feeling as if you should do it all, and simply feeling like a big fat failure when you’re understandably unable to do so. That added to the confusion of not knowing what you want to do or how you want to live your life – and the pressure to have it all figured out as your twenties start to fly before your eyes.

This blog covers a lot of my tips for surviving this strange era in which we live, such as living more simply and rationing social media. Watch this space – but in the meantime take a look at the following posts which I hope will make you feel a little better! Realise we are all in it together, and nobody really knows what they’re doing, even if they look like they do.

  • Procrastination – the thief of time (and sanity)
  • You can’t do it all
  • Good things are just around the corner!

Suggestions for alternative posts? Send them in!