Warwick teenagers Jack Kearns and Jakob Miklejohn speak about the benefits they got from the Young Leaders program, mental health, social media and what young people need. Two teenage boys pictured at Warwick skate park holding mobile phones, youth engagement.
Warwick teenagers Jack Kearns and Jakob Miklejohn speak about the benefits they got from the Young Leaders program, mental health, social media and what young people need. Two teenage boys pictured at Warwick skate park holding mobile phones, youth engagement. Marian Faa

NO END TO NEGATIVITY: Millennials carry conflict everywhere

GLUED to screens and with nothing else in town to entertain them, Warwick youth carry their problems everywhere and there is no escape.

Former Warwick State High School student and young leader Jacob Meiklejohn said many adults did not understand the unique challenges millennials faced in an age of social media.

On today's National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, Jacob said young people lived in a whole new world of cyber bullying that didn't exist 20 years ago.

"So many people are fixated on their phones and you constantly have all this pressure all the time,” he said.

"I don't think it is any wonder people feel the way they do when all you hear is that someone has commuted suicide or there has been another shooting in America or the crisis in the Middle East.”

Jacob said social media meant conflict on a local level was constant.

"Locally is just feels like there is controversy all the time - everything is just us and them.”

"But that no longer turns off. When you leave school you are still seeing that all the time on Facebook and on Snapchat and Instagram,” he said.

HEADS UP: Headspace manager Travis Maguire says there has been an increase in cyberbullying presentations among Warwick's youth.
HEADS UP: Headspace manager Travis Maguire says there has been an increase in cyberbullying presentations among Warwick's youth. Jonno Colfs

"It creates a constant breeding of competition and negativity. It comes home and it sticks with you and that is hard.”

Jacob saw social media as one of the factors contributing to the mental health issues Warwick youth grappled with on a regular basis.

From anxiety to depression, he and colleague Jack Kearns have seen Warwick youth struggle with a gamut of problems.

"There are a lot of mental health issues in Warwick with young people that I have seen,” Jack said.

"And the way they make themselves feel better is by going out and causing trouble, they don't go out and find help for themselves.”

Jack said he wanted to see more things happening to engage people between the ages of 15 and 25 in Warwick.

"Some more social groups and like activities for them. We'd like to have more events like music and things that kids got out and doing stuff,” he said.

"It's really about bringing young people together an getting them out and about and meeting new people.”

Headspace manager Travis Maguire said social connection was an important barrier to mental health problems, but there weren't many opportunities for teenagers in town.

"Social connection is one of the best preventions for mental health. It is one of the best things we can offer young people on top of all the counselling,” he said.

"But outside the sporting arena where do young people go to connect with other?

"Today is the national anti-bullying day and we have seen an increase in bullying-related presentations,” Mr Maguire said.


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