Script for our kids’ health

IT is disturbing, if not horrifying, that children as young as 4 are being prescribed antidepressants (“The depressing truth on meds”, HS, 8/2) but what seems more tragic is why so many youth under 18 are needing help for mental health issues.

That the use of antidepressants has soard by 36 per cent in five years indicates not just that review of prescribing this medication is urgent, but as a society we need to appraise why almost 200,000 children are so distressed.

Perhaps with an increasing incidence of family violence, bullying on social media, economic inequalities and body image problems, among others, it is time for parents across the socio-economic spectrum to reflect on personal behaviours and appreciate the profound and negative impacts on their offspring.

With more parents working full-time and constraints on quality time with their children, maybe they should step back and slow down to engage in more meaningful conversation with their children.

A caring, empathic and loving relationship with a child can be far more positive than buying a new pair of Reeboks or the latest digital wizardry.

While many young people might clamour for consumerism to keep up appearances, a genuine connection of meetings minds is far more valuable than material possessions or, indeed, a spotless home and manicured garden.

Moreover, as many reports have recently suggested, getting plenty of physical exercise and eating a healthy diet can contribute greatly to good mental health. Doctors should focus on that prescription first before reaching for their pill books.