The children of the world are in distress. 

The mental illness among children is global and it has continued to rise from 2012. It seems to gain momentum rather that cooling down.  For the first time in the history of mental illness the prevalence of mental illness is the highest in the age group 15 – 23.  Children are depressed, lonely, hopeless, anxious and some are so desperate that they turn on themselves with episodes of self-harm and suicide. Something is seriously wrong. 

In an effort to systemise information from different research reports, we have constructed a concept map.  This map is an effort to get a “bird’s eye view” of the situation, to understand it better and find ways how to address it.

In this “Teen Mental Illness Epidemic” concept map (version 1.2), information from different sources are represented in a visual model. The sources that inform this “mental model” are listed below.

Important notes:

  1. This concept map is work-in-progress, thus version 1.2.
  2. The literature makes a case that “class matters”; that is that different socio-economic classes have different profiles when it comes to the phenomenon of today’s Teen Mental Illness. For example, working and poor families do not have the same level of access to high speed Internet connectivity and personal smartphones for their children. Parents within this group are also less likely to over-protect, over-schedule or engage in “helicopter parenting”.  Compared to middle-class children however these children are more likely to have been affected by chronic and severe adversity. This concept map currently lacks this information, and therefor the black box on the left side of the map is a placeholder to remind us that we do not yet have the full picture, especially within the context of South Africa.
  3. We do not yet know what the statistics are for SA (we still need relevant source references) but we have personally experienced similar cases. We have found it in schools in Gauteng, with homeschoolers who live in the countryside, and also within our friend and family groups. We hope that SA’s statistics do not look like those in America and Britain, yet the Internet and especially Social Media make our South African children citizens of a virtual world that very strongly reflects the American and British contexts.

Watch a brief presentation of the Teen Mental Illness Epidemic in a concept map.

Download: “Teen Mental Illness Epidemic” (version 1.2) concept map.