Generation Next Blog← Older posts
Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Students at a Victorian state school have been left traumatised, and parents angry and shocked, after a seven-year-old student allegedly sexually abused classmates in the playground.Parents say they were kept in the dark about claims a grade one boy dragged female students into the toilets and forcibly removed their clothes, making them perform oral sex and kissing their genitals.The case highlights how schools are grappling with a rise in problematic sexualised behaviour among young children, who are too young to be charged by police.
I Think A Bullet Might Hurt A Little Bit Less Than This Loneliness: The Instagram Fad Normalising Suicidal Yearnings As Fashionable
Suicide-themed captions crafted by girls are attracting hundreds of teen and tween girls. However there are almost no responses encouraging the distressed and possibly at-risk girl to call ‘000’, a kids’ help hotline or even asking ‘RUOK?’
Instead, adoring fans applaud with ‘likes’, approving comments and a shower of emoticon hearts before following suit and posting their own suicide-inspired image and caption.
As director of a company, Inspire Creative Arts, working to strengthen positive social media engagement among young people, I am given an insight into the online life of young girls. From cyberbullying to drunken evenings, sex, gossip, body shaming, the ‘thinspiration’ and ‘fitspo’ re-posts, and semi-naked images: I thought I’d scrolled through it all. That was until I stumbled across Instagram’s suicide genre.
Instagram has become the diary of choice as a girl publicly pens her relationship breakdowns, friendship backstabs, family angst, bikini ‘body goals’, and the whimsical longings for physical touch and affection. All this, accompanying filtered images of an ocean, flowers, a sunset, a social gathering, her bedroom, laying on her bed, kneeling on her bed, an upper-body selfie with clothes intact or clothes removed, zoomed in on her lips, shoulders, side cleavage, abdominal definition, upper thighs.
But this public broadcast of death-pondering takes young people’s social media usage to a whole new level. The glamorising and approval of teen girl audiences of the desire to depart from life is surely one of the most dangerous digital conversations unfolding today.
– Melinda Tankard ReistCybersafety, Mental Health & Wellbeing | Tagged digital communication, help online, positive thinking, Social Media, suicide, young people | Leave a comment
Research indicates that there are generally low levels of mental health literacy in the community. General beliefs and misunderstandings about mental health affect community responses to eating disorders. Understanding the facts about eating disorders can reduce stigma, increase awareness and consequently improve the prevention, early identification and help-seeking among sufferers.
The National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) have identified five common misconceptions about eating disorders among communities.
Myth #1: Eating Disorders are a lifestyle choice or about vanity
The association between body dissatisfaction and eating disorders can sometimes lead people to mistakenly believe that eating disorders are prompted by vanity and represent a lifestyle choice to attain body ideals.
Eating disorders are serious and potentially life threatening mental illnesses; they are not a lifestyle choice or a diet gone ‘too far’. A person with an eating disorder experiences severe disturbances in their behaviour around eating, exercising and related self-harm because of distortions in their thoughts and emotions. Eating disorders defy classification solely as mental illnesses as they not only involve considerable psychological impairment and distress, but they are also associated with major wide-ranging and serious medical complications, which can affect every major organ in the body. The mortality rate for people with eating disorders is the highest of all psychiatric illnesses, and over 12 times higher than that for people without eating disorders.
Eating disorders result from multiple factors and are not caused by any one factor. While body image concerns play a role in the development of an eating disorder for many people, for some people the development of an eating disorder is not related to a desire to meet social ideals.
Myth #2: Dieting is a normal part of life
Research shows that people recognise the potentially harmful nature of eating disorders, however they also accept body obsession and dieting as normal parts of growing up. Studies in Australia and New Zealand have found an alarming 75% of high school girls feel fat or want to lose weight.
While moderate, sustainable changes in diet and exercise have been shown to be safe, significant mental and physical consequences may occur with extreme or unhealthy dieting practices. Eating disorders almost invariably occur in people who have engaged in dieting or disordered eating. Dieting is also associated with other health concerns including depression, anxiety, nutritional and metabolic problems, and, contrary to expectation, with an increase in weight. Research shows that young people who diet moderately are six times more likely to develop an eating disorder; and those who are severe dieters have an 18-fold risk.
Myth #3: Eating Disorders are a cry for attention, or a person going through a ‘phase’
The NEDC Youth Consultation showed that 51.3% of 12-17 year olds strongly agreed or agreed that a person with an eating disorder should ‘snap out of it, there are more important things in life to worry about’. These types of misconceptions are not limited to the general public. A person with an eating disorder may receive similar reactions from some health professionals.
People with eating disorders are not seeking attention. In fact, due to the nature of an eating disorder a person may go to great lengths to hide, disguise or deny their behaviour, or may not recognise that there is anything wrong. Regardless of the age of a person at the time their eating disorder begins, there is often a considerable period of time between onset and treatment; an average of approximately 4 years between the start of disordered eating behaviours and first treatment. The person may also see a number of healthcare professionals before receiving a correct diagnosis.
Myth #4: Families, particularly parents, are to blame for Eating Disorders
There is a common, historic misconception that family members can cause eating disorders through their interactions with a person at risk. This misconception has been so pervasive that historically parents were treated by medical practitioners as one of the factors contributing to an eating disorder rather than one of the resources available to help a person with an eating disorder recover.
There is strong evidence that eating disorders have a genetic basis and people who have family members with an eating disorder may be at higher risk of developing an eating disorder themselves. However, although a person’s genetics may predispose them to developing an eating disorder this is certainly not the fault of their family. Genetics play a role in many illnesses; both mental (e.g. schizophrenia) and physical (e.g. breast cancer and heart disease). Family and friends play a crucial role in the care, support and recovery of people with eating disorders. Clinical guidelines for best practice in managing eating disorders encourage the inclusion of families at each stage of treatment for adolescents with eating disorders, from the initial assessment to providing recovery support.
Myth #5: Eating Disorders only affect white, middle class females, particularly adolescent girls
It is true that the peak period for the onset of eating disorders is between the ages of 12 and 25 years, with a median age of around 18 years. One key group with a high risk of eating disorders is women, particularly those going through key transition periods (e.g. from school to adult life, pregnancy and menopause). This high risk has led to a misconception that eating disorders only occur in this population.
Eating disorders can affect anyone. They occur:
- Across all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds
- Amongst people of all ages, from children to the elderly
- In both men and women
Population studies have suggested that males make up approximately 25% of people with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa and 40% of people with binge eating disorder. Eating disorders are not limited to any one group of people and the prevalence of eating disorders in specific high risk groups should not distract the community from the importance of recognising eating disorders in other populations.
– The NEDC
The NEDC have created a video to help spread the truth about eating disorders. View and share this video here.
The National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) is an initiative of Australian Government Department of Health and a collaboration of people and organisations with an expertise and/or interest in eating disorders. NEDC aims to improve the health outcomes of people with, or at risk of developing an eating disorder in Australia through providing evidence-based information and resources.Posted in Culture & Society, Mental Health & Wellbeing | Tagged anorexia, binge eating, body image, bulimia, eating disorders, psychology | Leave a comment
Martin Seligman has been raising the profile of positive psychology over the past two decades. Seligman’s notion of good mental health boils down to five key domains that together form the acronym PERMA: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and purpose, and accomplishments. This list includes the five PERMA attributes, as well as emotional stability, optimism, resilience, self-esteem and vitality.
The following attributes have been found to be important for good mental health
- Positive emotions: all things considered, how happy do I feel?
- Engagement: taking an interest in your work and activities
- Relationships: having people in your life that you care for and who care about you
- Meaning and purpose: feeling that what you do in life is valuable and worthwhile
- Accomplishment: feeling that what you do gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes you feel competent
- Emotional stability: feeling calm and peaceful
- Optimism: feeling positive about your life and your future
- Resilience: being able to bounce back in the face of adversity
- Self-esteem: feeling positive about yourself
- Vitality: feeling energetic
Strategies for positive wellbeing
Mindfulness: Mindfulness, which emerged out of the Buddhist tradition of meditation, is a practice of drawing one’s attention to the present moment, focusing on emotions, thoughts and sensations. Mindfulness has been shown to be effective at improving mental wellbeing, behaviour regulation, and interpersonal relationships. A key to mindfulness practice is awareness. If we are aware that we are becoming angry, for instance, we have a greater ability to make a choice of how to behave in response to that emotion.
Gratitude diary: Another useful exercise for fostering optimism is a gratitude diary. Listing three things to be appreciative or thankful for at the end of each day can help us to view life from the glass-half-full perspective more often.
Optimism: There is a distinction between fostering optimism and simple positive thinking. Promote thoughts that will help to make the most of a bad situation or find a realistic solution to a problem, rather than just sweeping a problem under the carpet.
Realistic expectations: Negative life events can strike anyone. The death of a loved one, loss of a job, or onset of serious illness can all take their toll on mental wellbeing. This is one reason that it’s important to focus on aspects of our life that are within out control.
Social engagement: Activities such as volunteering as factors that can help to promote good mental health. A healthy diet, exercise and getting adequate sleep also play a role.
Many of these same factors protect our health and are considered central to positive wellbeing.
– Eirini Lammi
Eirini Lammi is a Consultant Psychologist with ACER.
ACER is one of the world’s leading educational research centres. Our goal is to support every learner for line and our learning society through our work. ACER offers a variety of assessments, resources and professional development to inform, improve and support learners and learning. For their latest workshop on positive psychology and wellbeing please visit:
You can also visit one of the ACER consultants at one of the Generation Next events across Australia!
People who may be sliding toward depression might be able to prevent the full-blown disorder by completing some self-help exercises online, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that men and women who had some symptoms of depression and used a web-based mental health program that was supported by an online trainer were less likely to experience a major depressive episode during a 1-year follow-up period, compared with people who also had symptoms of depression but were only given online access to educational materials about the signs of depression and its treatment. The findings were published today (May 3) in the journal JAMA.
– Cari NierenbergMental Health & Wellbeing | Tagged Depression, internet, mental illness, online, self-help exercises, study, tips | Leave a comment
Islamic State has launched an app aimed at children, teaching them letters of the Arabic alphabet using colourful pictures of guns, swords, tanks, bullets and missiles.
The Android app named Huroof – the Arabic word for alphabet – was distributed this week via the terrorist group’s channels on the messaging service Telegram.
While Islamic State has released other apps through its propaganda network, the Library of Zeal, Huroof was thought to be the first targeting children exclusively, the Long War Journal reported.
The program employs games and songs to teach children a vocabulary of weapons including dhakheera (ammunition), madfa’ (cannon) and saarukh (rocket).
In November, the Berlin-based Telegram said that in one week it had blocked 78 Islamic State channels in 12 languages.
– Fairfax MediaCulture & Society | Tagged children, education, Islamic State, technology, war, warzone, weapons | Leave a comment
Ecstasy continues to be a popular drug in Australia. Although recent use (use in the past year) has decreased since 2007, those reporting ever having tried the drug has continued to rise to almost 11% of the Australian population aged 14 years and over. The number of school-based young people who reported recent use of the drug had remained fairly steady for some time (around 4% of 12-17 year-olds) but dropped in the most recent survey to 2.7%.
Ecstasy is the street-term for a substance called MDMA (methylenedioxy-methamphetamine). Available in pills, capsules, powder and now crystal form, it is a notoriously impure drug with users never really being sure what they’re actually taking. MDMA is a difficult drug to make and as such other drugs are often substituted during the manufacturing process, some of which can be highly toxic. Recently new processes have been developed and, as a result, we have seen a dramatic increase in MDMA quality across the world.
Unfortunately, young people are provided very little quality information on ecstasy and rely on friends and the Internet when making choices around this drug. What is provided to them through school-based drug education programs or government mass media campaigns is often regarded as unbalanced, ’propoganda’ that focuses on possible, but less likely outcomes such as death. We therefore need to look for other opportunities to provide information that is accurate, credible and useful.
It is unreasonable to expect those who have contact with young people, whether it be a teacher, counsellor, social worker or school nurse, to be ‘experts’ on drugs like ecstasy but here are 5 simple messages that could be conveyed if the opportunity arises:
Ecstasy is illegal and more people are being busted for use than ever before. Young people need to be reminded that if they do get caught with ecstasy and receive a conviction, their life will change. A drug conviction will mean they will not be able to get certain jobs and they will not be able to travel to certain countries, just because you got caught with one pill in your pocket. Drug detection dogs and roadside (or mobile) drug testing are part of their world – they need to know the law – ignorance is no excuse!
MDMA is not a safe drug. Many of the deaths that have recently occurred in Europe have been proven to be MDMA overdoses due, we believe, to the increase in MDMA quality now found in pills, powder and crystal. Deaths in the past have often been due to adulterants (most often PMA, a highly toxic form of amphetamine) and that has led to some believing that if you have MDMA in your pill then it will be safe. It needs to made clear that too much MDMA can result in death.
Even if you know what’s in a pill, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. There’s been lots of discussion around pill testing lately and how that could save people’s lives. The theory is that if you know what you’re taking then that makes it safer. Undoubtedly, knowing what is in the pill is better than not knowing, but young people must realize that they have no way of knowing how those substances contained in the pill or powder will affect them should they choose to use it. Continue reading →Posted in Drugs & Alcohol | Tagged death, Drug Education, drugs, ecstasy, MDMA, tips, young people | Leave a comment
Have you ever sat down to complete an important task — and then suddenly discovered you were up loading the dishwasher or engrossed in the Wikipedia entry about Chernobyl? Or perhaps you suddenly realise that the dog needs to be fed, emails need to be answered, your ceiling fan needs dusting — or maybe you should go ahead and have lunch, even though it’s only 11 a.m.?
Next thing you know, it’s the end of the day and your important task remains unfinished.
For many people, procrastination is a strong and mysterious force that keeps them from completing the most urgent and important tasks in their lives with the same strength as when you try to bring like poles of a magnet together. It’s also a potentially dangerous force, causing victims to fail out of school, perform poorly at work, put off medical treatment or delay saving for retirement. A Case Western University study from 1997 found that college-age procrastinators ended up with higher stress, more illness and lower grades by the end of the semester.
But the reasons people procrastinate are not understood that well. Some researchers have viewed procrastination largely as a failure of self-regulation — like other bad behaviours that have to do with a lack of self-control, such as overeating, a gambling problem or overspending. Others say it’s not a matter of being lazy or poor time management, as many smart overachievers who procrastinate often can attest. They say it may actually be linked to how our brain works and to deeper perceptions of time and the self.
How exactly does procrastination work, and how do you stop it? Psychological research, comics and “The Simpsons” will explain.
The real origins of procrastination
Most psychologists see procrastination as a kind of avoidance behaviour, a coping mechanism gone awry in which people “give in to feel good,” says Timothy Pychyl, a professor who studies procrastination at Carleton University, in Ottawa.
It usually happens when people fear or dread, or have anxiety about, the important task awaiting them. To get rid of this negative feeling, people procrastinate — they open up a video game or Pinterest instead. That makes them feel better temporarily, but unfortunately, reality comes back to bite them in the end.
Once the reality of a deadline sets in again, procrastinators feel more extreme shame and guilt. But for an extreme procrastinator, those negative feelings can be just another reason to put the task off, with the behaviour turning into a vicious, self-defeating cycle.
Read more >>
– Ana SwansonCulture & Society, Mental Health & Wellbeing | Tagged habits, important tasks, life style, mental illness, procrastination, stress, students, tips | Leave a comment
In the battle to find what causes mental illness, scientists are increasingly looking at genetic factors. For James Longman – whose father killed himself after suffering from schizophrenia – it’s a very personal question.
I’m often told I look like my dad, that I have his mannerisms and some of his habits. It’s something I take pride in. But it’s also something that worries me because he had schizophrenia, and when I was nine, he took his own life.
After a particularly bad two-week episode, he set fire to his flat in London, and threw himself out of a window.
Some of the details of his life and death have only become clear while looking into this story. Multiple suicide attempts; walking around London in just a bathrobe; hearing voices. They are details that contrast so strongly with the man I remember from when he was well – happy, creative and funny.
Twenty years earlier, his own father – my grandfather – had shot himself after finding out he had cancer. I also have other family with mental health issues. Now in my twenties I sometimes struggle with depression. So I naturally think – is this something that runs in my family?
For a lot of people, mental health is a difficult thing to talk about. But those who deal with these issues can often point to family members with similar problems. Do I get depressed because of the trauma of losing my father in such tragic circumstances? Or is it written into my DNA?
– BBC NewsCulture & Society, Mental Health & Wellbeing | Tagged DNA, Family, genes, mental disorders, parenting, Parents | 1 Comment
We live with an epidemic of anxiety. In 1980, 4% of Americans suffered a mental disorder associated with anxiety. Today half do. The trends in Britain are similar. A third of Britons will experience anxiety disorder at some stage in their life, with an explosion of reported anxiety among teenagers and young adults. Anxiety, depression, self-harm, attention deficit disorder and profound eating problems afflict our young as never before.
Anxiety has always been part of the human condition – as has depression and tendencies to self-harm – but never, it seems, on this scale. A number of trends appear to be colliding. This is an era when everyone is expected to find their personal route to happiness at the same time as the bonds of society, faith and community – tried and tested mechanisms to support wellbeing – are fraying. Teenagers in particular – fearful of missing out – are beset by a myriad of agonising choices about how to achieve the good life with fewer social and psychological anchors to help them navigate their way. Who can blame them if they respond with an ever rising sense of anxiety, if not panic?
Life never was and never can be an uninterrupted progress towards utopian bliss. Grief following the loss of someone beloved, a great ambition thwarted or simply witnessing one’s body age or wither through illness are all concomitants of being alive – pains alongside life’s many wonderful pleasures On the other hand, there is no doubt that the patients complaining of acute mental anxiety feel intensely disturbed beyond some normal level of anxiousness – and that teenagers can feel this more acutely still.
Happiness – when individual liberty is seen as all-important – lies in exercising choice and taking responsibility for our own lives. Get the choices right, and self-realisation, self-fulfillment and happiness will follow. Get them wrong and you risk mockery and marginalisation. Teenagers know as never before that they must get their choices right, pass their exams – and many will have 24/7 parents “helping” them in their quest. However, the act of making many choices with necessarily imperfect information perforce induces anxiety and stress – and once they are made, happiness does not automatically follow. Small wonder that teenagers in general, and teenage girls in particular, find the whole experience traumatising – as do their elders, even if they have better-developed emotional and psychological resource to deal with it.Culture & Society, Mental Health & Wellbeing | Tagged anxiety, Happiness, human conditions, mental disorder, psychology, social change | Leave a comment ← Older posts