Cutting mental health care is killing our kids

A bloodied blade. . . the gruesome outcome of a deranged juvenile denied prompt mental healthcare

As the UK parliament faces the growing problem of juvenile knife crime, WILLIE GILES points out the REAL killer cause: cuts in mental health care


THE INEXORABLE ADVANCES in technology may have advantages for the human race, but these have been obscured by the many disadvantages that have become apparent in recent years.

Currently, the chairman of an all-party parliamentary group on knife crime is calling for young people who commit violence offences to be banned from using social media such as YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram.

Sarah Jones. . .Knife crime group chair

But, as part of the government’s new serious violence strategy, group chairman and Labour MP Sarah Jones’ plan only touches the tip of the iceberg.

Mental illness has been recognised for many centuries, though even now it is not fully understood.  At one time it was called ‘Melancholia’ and was even slightly glamorised as an affliction closely related to genius and suffered by many famous artists and writers.

It has moved on to establish a new, general terminology: ‘Depression’, some of whose features include insecurity, diminished self-esteem and a craving for acceptance by one’s peers.

All these features and more appear to have been easily manipulated by social network sites, to the extent that juvenile mental health problems increasingly carry on into adult life.

Self-esteem is becoming an urgently sought-after target that requires ever-more dangerous sanctions.

Growing knife violence in London and major cities is an extreme example of the search for self-esteem in neighbourhoods defined by gang culture and sculpted by elements of fear and mental illness.  To carry out a murderously successful knifing is to achieve a ‘score’ that raises the self-esteem both of the perpetrator and the gang to which he/she belongs.

Such killings will escalate and continue until the root of the problem can be addressed. I see no sign that government has the will to tackle this huge problem, shown by the fact that waiting time for treatment of juvenile and adolescent mental health problems remains horrendously long.

Consequently, the mind-set of some of our children deteriorates to the crazy levels we are currently seeing.

Equally alarmingly, those disturbed children not yet caught up in this spiralling pattern of violence still wait for much-needed help.


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