Rod Liddle Rod Liddle

Ban smartphones for kids!


News that almost all young people have gone mental will not surprise anybody who has met any of them recently. However, my suspicion is that while they were probably quite mental to begin with, they have been rendered even more so by constant warnings regarding their mental health by teachers, the mainstream and social media and quite probably their awful parents. It is probably true that 40-odd years ago we rather neglected mental health and became embarrassed when we talked about it – and were apt to use horrible words like ‘mental’ and ‘loony’ when doing so.

The principal symptom is an inability to concentrate on stuff – it’s all there in the name

The question, then, is whether we are better off now that we talk about almost nothing else, wrapped in a constant fug which suggests we are all on a one-way ticket to the booby-hatch. Our children are much less happy, that’s for sure. A report from the Children’s Society insists that young people’s mental health continues to decline and that in a class of 30 kids, some five will have mental health ishoos.

But as the Eagles once put it, how does one tell the dancer from the dance? One listens to the stream of propaganda about our general parlous mental health and it is rather as if we had all bought into R.D. Laing’s supposition that mental illness is a sane reaction to a sick society and that not only should mental illness be de-stigmatised, but there is actually something a bit commendable about it and frankly, people who do not suffer from depression, ADHD, anxiety, tendencies to self-harm etc are probably a bit suspect and most likely properly mental themselves. Psychotic, or Conservative or something.

‘It’s amazing how urbanised they are becoming.’

Mental illness is also classed as a disability, whereas in the 1970s this term was used to define people who had lost their legs in a horrific industrial accident often involving a blast furnace or had maybe been born that way as a consequence of chance, genes or questionable first trimester pharmaceuticals.

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