ChristianHeadlines Is Moving to CrosswalkHeadlines! Visit Us Here

About All Those Mental Health Issues...

Dr. James Emery White | Mecklenburg Community Church | Updated: Mar 07, 2024
About All Those Mental Health Issues...

About All Those Mental Health Issues...

First things first. Mental illness is real and needs compassion, concern and, when called for, treatment. For example, I have written about the importance of understanding the very real nature of depression and the importance of its treatment.

Second things second. Not everything we are calling “mental health issues” are, well, mental health issues.

A report from the Resolution Foundation thinktank found that many everyday problems related to being young are now being branded as mental health issues. The UK study found that 20-somethings were more likely to be off work sick than adults in their 40s due to depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

This comes as we are learning from a study published in the journal Pediatrics that the monthly rate of antidepressants being dispensed to young people between the ages of 12 to 25 increased about 64% more quickly during the pandemic. The increase was most prominent among women and girls, where the monthly rate increased about 130% faster among to 12- to17-year-old girls, and about 57% faster among women between the ages of 18 and 25.

Professor Frank Furedi, a sociologist at the University of Kent, said:

What used to be known as existential problems of being young – relationship breakdowns, failing, not being part of something – the normal difficulties of making your own way in life have been compartmentalized into mental health issues. We’ve created a mental health crisis by reframing the problems of everyday life into this.

Furedi’s concern is that we are dispossessing young people of their sense of being able to take charge of their lives. He adds:

If you have a mental health condition, how can you possibly take responsibility and take control of your destiny? The minute something goes wrong, as soon as you have normal tensions of work, it turns into a problem of stress and depression.

In the UK report, the number of 18–24-year-olds who are “economically inactive” because of health issues has doubled in the past decade, rising from 93,000 to 190,000—that amounts to one in 20 young workers, excluding full-time students, being out sick. Two-thirds of those reported suffering poor mental health.

Furedi does not see the situation improving, but instead getting worse, adding that, “We have the constant proliferation of psychological diagnosis given to children so things like ADHD are constantly handed out like candy.”

To be clear, the world in which young people are growing up in today is vastly different than the world of previous generations. Social media alone is a contributing factor no other generation has had to surmount. From this flows a loneliness that can be, for many, palpable. These are not insignificant matters and can certainly contribute to mental health issues. And, of course, there were all things COVID. 

Yet one can’t help but feel Furedi is onto something. Namely, our rush to label almost any adverse reaction to challenge as a mental health issue. Sometimes you just have to grow up and realize that life is a challenge.

And get about rising to it.

James Emery White

Sources

Josh Ely, “‘Everyday Problems of Being Young’ Are Now Being Branded ‘Mental Health Issues’, Critics Claim: 20-Somethings Are Getting Signed Off with ‘Relationship Breakdowns’ - Meaning Gen Z Are Now More Likely to Be ‘Too Ill to Work’ Than Adults in Their 40s,” Daily Mail, February 26, 2024, read online.

Ceci Browning, Damian Whitworth and Zak Asgard, “Young, Anxious and Signed Off Sick — Why So Many Twentysomethings Aren’t Working,” The Times UK, February 26, 2024, read online.

Ayana Archie, “The Rate of Antidepressants Prescribed to Young People Surged During the Pandemic,” NPR, February 27, 2024, read online.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Hybrid Church: Rethinking the Church for a Post-Christian Digital Age, is now available on Amazon or from your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. Follow Dr. White on X, Facebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of ChristianHeadlines.

Image credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/martin-dm

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Hybrid Church: Rethinking the Church for a Post-Christian Digital Age, is now available on Amazon or from your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. Follow Dr. White on X, Facebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.



About All Those Mental Health Issues...