The Prime Minister recently called for a step change in the way we deal with mental health and in particular children’s mental health. One in ten children have a diagnosable mental health condition and without help and support the cost later, to them and to society, is huge.
In November in Parliament I met my constituent Dr Martin Lee when he received a Healthcare Champion Award. We talked then, and since, of his concerns about adolescent mental health and what he terms Smartphone Overuse Syndrome. Smartphones play an important part in modern lives but in Dr Lee’s view overuse can affect family relationships and have a harmful effect on children’s sleep patterns and mental health.
A recent survey by Digital Awareness UK found that almost half of teenagers checked their phone during the night and almost a quarter of these checked their phone more than 10 times a night. Two thirds said they felt tired during the day and their schoolwork was affected. A number of studies have demonstrated a correlation between increased Smartphone use and poor sleep patterns. And a number of studies have linked sleep disturbance with mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Dr Lee believes students need to be educated about Smartphone use and is so concerned he’s set up a website www.nophonezone.co.uk and developed a parenting aid to create phone free areas within our own homes. Concerned parents and teachers should take a look.