Diocese of Rochester

Stop criticising 'so-called Generation Snowflake' for their mental health issues, Bishop says

Comments claiming Generation Z is not "robust enough to deal with today's world" in order to explain what's behind the high number of youngsters with mental health problems, shouldn't be tolerated in the Church.

The Bishop of Tonbridge's comments were made at a conference that explored the role churches can play in supporting young people with their mental well-being.

The Rt Rev Simon Burton-Jones told attendees of the event in Christ Church, Tunbridge Wells: "A major NHS report last week into the mental health of young people was sobering.


"Among other findings, it showed that nearly one in four young women has a mental illness, with depression and anxiety being especially common. We know something is not right and it appears to be getting worse for both young women and young men, and symptoms are presenting at an earlier age.

"Faced with such uncertainty, some people fall back on easy remedies or, better still, finger-pointing, so others take the blame."

Drug and alcohol charity Addaction found in a recent poll that a third of schoolgirls with mental health problems have hurt themselves or attempted suicide.

Bishop Simon said churches ought to be the place young people can turn to as "churches have the capacity to offer care across the generations and to use the sizeable local spaces we have to bless those who have no safe space".

He added: "There is already a developing generational rift between baby-boomers and millennials, with the latter well aware that their futures look much less rosy because of decisions taken by their elders that impact upon debt, pay and housing."



He said there were many reasons young people struggle more with their mental health than older generations.

"Each generation of young people faces social pressures, but this is the first to be born into a world where the boundary lines between public and private have more or less been extinguished," he said.

He also said older generations are partly to blame for the "pressures of physical perfection" children have.

He explained: "The visual recording of personal images is relentless, exposing teenagers to the harsh judgment of others.

"The standard for physical perfection was not set by Generation Z. It has been set - and continues to be monitored - by older generations with control of the media."

Listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking to the Bishop of Tonbridge:

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