I'm a young person and I want to talk
Understanding teenagers' ups and downs
As one of the largest providers of counselling for young people, we at Relate have been finding out exactly what brings teenagers to our counselling rooms, and what it is they find troublesome and difficult or inspirational and uplifting.
We've commissioned two surveys, one of our young people's counsellors and another of teenagers themselves. You might find the results surprising.
What are the pressures in young people's lives?
The biggest issue our counsellors face with young people is anger. 58% reported anger issues, followed by 44% mentioning self-esteem and 43% mentioning problems with parents.
Nearly three quarters of the teenagers we surveyed said they'd felt stress sometimes in the last month, and almost a third said they felt stressed often or all the time. Girls are more likely to be stressed often, with 37% reporting stress compared to 24% of boys.
Young people's parents play the biggest part in what makes teenagers feel worthless. 82% of our counsellors said being criticised by parents made teenagers feel worthless, while 45% mention being bullied and 44% mention a lack of encouragement from teachers.
Our counsellors report the biggest new issue teenagers are bringing up in our counselling rooms are depression and mental health issues. 64% of our counsellors cite these as problems their clients have, and as problems their clients' parents have. Family breakdown is a rising issue for 41% of our counsellors. Perhaps the newest issue is the pressure of social media, with 21% of counsellors reporting the issue.
The hopes in young people's lives
Parents, friends and teachers
It's not just bad news for parents. More teenagers (41%) said their parents inspired them than any other group. This was followed by friends (27%) and teachers (26%). One in ten said nobody inspired them.
We asked young people who they'd most like to be their celebrity best friend for a day. Most of the teenagers we asked said Stephen Fry, followed by David Beckham and Justin Bieber.
Young people proved to be optimistic for the future, and less materialistic. 57% agreed that they'd be okay in the future if they had good relationships with friends and family, and just 31% saying they'd be happy if they had lots of money.
What can we do?
Sharon Chapman, one of our young people's counsellors said:
“We know that young people under stress may express their feelings of anger in destructive ways, but unless we tackle the causes rather than focusing on the behaviour we are creating a cycle that may be hard to break.
“Work out together how to tackle difficult or painful feelings and stressful situations. Boost their self worth and notice when they do well!”