Are we doing enough to look after our children and young people? Recently, news suggests we need to be a bit more mindful about looking after them.

Diabetes UK reported what appears to be a dramatic increase in the number of children and young people suffering from type two diabetes. This is associated with the debates around lifestyles, exercise and how healthy is what we’re eating.

Additionally, the NHS, the Nuffield Trust and other organisations have published reports into mental health in our young people.

Between 2008 and 2014, reports of a mental health condition increased by between 41 per cent and 75 per cent depending on in which UK country they live. By 2014, around one in twenty children or young people in England were affected.

Nearly a quarter of young women are reported to have some form of mental illness. Of these, over 50 per cent are likely to have self-harmed. The figures are also concerning for boys, where in the primary age group, they are almost twice as likely to have some type of mental disorder. Poverty, sexual orientation and ethnicity are related to increased rates.

As we approach the festive season, we can reflect on how we look after our youngsters. They experience pressures we were subject to but also those we were not, including technology and social media. That’s before we consider the challenges and pressures placed on them around educational attainment, the changing job market and associated issues in housing.

Oliver James’ book Not in Your Genes concludes on mental wellbeing arising from layering pressures onto children, “But once basic levels of affluence are achieved, like a roof over our head and enough to eat, these ambitions dwindle into nothing compared to the alternative, which… is passing love and emotional health to our children.” Let’s remember that this Christmas.

  • Matt Turmaine is a Labour councillor for Holywell