Are We Resilient Enough?

I’ve been quite the last while as I’ve been struggling a little bit with my symptoms, for a variety of reasons that I will go into in an upcoming post. However, I read this article recently and I felt compelled to share it.

Michael Kelly wrote, “The kids aren’t alright – why we must teach the snowflake generation about life’s harsh realities.”

Mental Health in Ireland

Michael took a different view on the mental health of Irish youth as it stands today. In years past we spoke about everyone in Ireland being touched, in one way or another, by the tragic illness that is cancer. And it was shocking. But the fact is still the same. We all know someone who has from suffered cancer, or indeed you may be one of those who have had to endure it yourself.

However, we are now living in a time where we have a new, additional fact: Everyone in Ireland has been touched, in some way, by a young person taking his or her own lives. Be it a friend, a family member, a schoolmate, or a member of their local community.

Michael references a friend of his in the article, painting a frightening picture

A teacher friend of mine paints a picture of today’s children as the most physically safe but mentally fragile generation she has ever encountered in almost 40 years in the classroom.”

Our Fragile Generation

This is absolutely terrifying and really struck a chord with me. However, as I am not a parent myself I do not feel that I am in a position to make comment, and thus will not delve into this point, right now…. However, it is terrifying to think about. Especially when we have statistics like:

  • 70 schoolchildren died by suicide in Ireland last year
  • Ireland have the fourth-highest teen suicide rate across the EU
  • 6% of children between 11-15 reported that they had experienced two or more psychological symptoms of ill health more than once a week

Irish charities are consistently reporting higher rates of young people seeking help for their mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. But why, when our children have never been ‘safer’?

Michael makes the argument that perhaps we are shielding our youth from reality. Young people don’t know how to cope when faced with challenges and adversity. Are they too sheltered? Are we trying so hard to protect our youth physically that they are suffering mentally?

Are the youth of today lacking resilience?

This terrifies me! And it saddens me. Is the number of young people in Ireland struggling with their mental health brought on because we are not nurturing their resilience?

The Importance of Resilience

Throughout my journey resilience was a strength I was complimented on time and time again. My resilience got me through some of my toughest days. I was determined to get better. I knew I could get through it if I kept doing the little things right.

Throughout my 24 years leading to my accident I was encouraged to pick myself back up when I fell, train harder if I didn’t perform to the best of my sporting abilities, study harder if I didn’t get the marks I wanted and work harder to get the job I wanted.

I got many a knock back in my short 24 years (as everyone does!), but they all stood to my in my recovery.

I had experience of things not going my way and overcoming them. I experienced being told I wasn’t good enough. I experienced not being smart enough. I experienced not being fast enough, or strong enough or fit enough. And I learned to better myself. I took this same approach to my recovery. I was not well, but I knew I could get better.

Nurturing Resilience

My worry after reading this article is not only that young peoples mental health is suffering but also that if they experience a serious illness, an accident or a loss they won’t know how to cope – physically or mentally. Resilience is at the core of all of this.

Michael Kelly summarised by saying “Unless we make resilience the top priority, we run the risk of cultivating vulnerability and making our young people lifelong children, people who never have to grow up because they are not taught self-reliance and, crucially, not taught how to endure unhappiness.”

We need to nurture resilience in the youth of today.

We need to give them the tools to cope with unhappiness or when things don’t go their way.

We need to teach them how to bounce back and give them the confidence and reassurance they need to work at bouncing back from whatever life throws their way.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.