Fear of Missing Out

As you log onto social media on a Friday evening you might see a fun-filled timeline. Someone might have got engaged, a lot of people have probably uploaded pictures from pre-drinks, and you might have seen that your best mate got that big promotion they wanted earlier today. What did you do? It never seems to quite compare to everyone else’s day, does it?

I think we all have that innate fear of missing out or FOMO, but some of us feel it more strongly than others. It’s the idea that people are living life better than you, experiencing things you cannot, and seeing people you couldn’t possibly meet. Nearly three-quarters of young adults say they experience this sensation, and there’s no doubting that we’re the first generation to be so highly affected. Mainly this is due to the rise of social media, and the greater insight we get into everyone’s lives.

It’s certainly not fun. It causes a vicious cycle, where despite feeling as though you’re worse off you continue to check social media again and again as to not feel out the loop. You start to check it when you wake up, before you go to bed, whilst eating your meals, in the bathroom, basically any piece of free time that you have. The problem is that this then often leads you to miss out on various other experiences because of this constant need to keep on top of things.

71% admit to making excuses to get out of social events despite feeling as though they miss out, over a third experience stress and anxiety when they do go out, and 30% feel disappointed afterwards. This can then lead the individual to believe they’re not quite doing it right, that everyone else but them has it down to a tee. But it’s okay because that epic moment is just around the corner, you’re an idiot for staying home and you’re missing out, and the process starts again.

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Mental Health in the Classroom

Earlier this week was Suicide Awareness Day, a time where many talk the talk regarding helping others, speaking up, and raising awareness. Unfortunately, there clearly isn’t enough walking the walk. To understand why the mental health crisis has exacerbated, we must look to the start. A child’s schooling years are the time that can define their whole life, so surely, it’s the time to act. If physical education lessons are compulsory, why isn’t mental health?

I have never, in over 20 years of teaching, seen pupils suffer with so much anxiety and other symptoms of poor mental health”, just the words of one teacher in a recent article from Sally Weale. Mental health issues among teenagers are rising rapidly. It’s estimated that 3 children in each classroom have a diagnosable mental health problem, and the NSPCC says that the number of referrals by schools seeking treatment for pupils has risen by a third in the past three years alone. We’re also seeing alarming rises in youngsters hurting themselves – a 70% increase among 10-14-year-olds in Britain – and 1 in 4 are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

So, what is fuelling this dramatic rise? Firstly, it’s worth noting the reasons are plentiful, and I can hardly do them all justice in a blog post, but let’s look at the main few. One overarching theme is the austerity imposed by Tory governments. Between 2010 and 2015 mental health trusts in England had £600 million slashed from their budgets, there are now 5,000 fewer mental health nurses available, and as such waiting times have doubled in the last decade. Schools have also had their purse strings tightened, with 91% facing real-terms cuts which have even led to parents at various schools being asked to donate money towards vital supplies such as stationary, books, and even toilet paper.

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Minnesota’s Moment

The offseason in the NFL is incredibly long by any sport’s standards, but this year felt somewhat remarkably so. It was just 6 months or so ago that Philadelphia shocked the world to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy, but it feels an age away. When the action returns in under 2 weeks, the field is as open as it has been for quite some time. The Eagles have shown that few teams can be discounted, and many of the recent dominant franchises showed signs of decline. Below are my predictions for each of the divisions, as well as where the value likes at the bookies.

We’ll start in the NFC East, in the division of my Giants. Last year the Eagles were outsiders in this division alone, but the SuperBowl champions comfortably topped the group. The core group still remain, but tiredness might be an issue due to their shorter offseason, and the questions remains as to whether Carson Wentz will be able to replicate his remarkable stats from last season. Now, can any of the other three franchises mount a challenge?

The Cowboys are always in with a shout, especially with Elliott in the backfield, but the playoffs look too steep for their team this year. Washington look too weak across the board, so it might well be that the Giants are the closest challengers. Despite their poor season last year, the Giants have an impressive team on paper and with a new head coach can look to a fresh start. I do think the Eagles will take the division again, but there is value in the Giants to take it at 5/1.

Last year the NFC South saw three teams book their way into the playoffs, and again the division looks tough to call. The Falcons suffered from post SuperBowl tiredness (something the Eagles will hope to avoid), but should be a bigger force this season. The Saints had the strongest backfield in the league last year with Ingram and Kamara, but questions still remain on the defence, and sooner or later they will need to deal with the fact that Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger.

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The Premier League Stats Here

This weekend sees the return of the Premier League; although it doesn’t really seem like football ever went away. To get us in the mood, here are some of my favourite stats and trends from last season, and I analyse what they might mean heading into the new season. I also give you my predictions, which knowing my luck will probably look terrible by the time May comes around.

Arsenal away off the big boys
Yes, there will be some puns here. Arsenal at the Emirates last season were formidable. They won 17 of 19, collecting 53 points (level with Manchester City), and scored 54 goals. Away from home was a very different story. When leaving the comforts of their local library Arsenal won just 4 of 19 games, collected a meagre 16 points, scored just 20 goals, and conceded 31. If Arsenal can sort out their away form, maybe they can find their way back into the top four.

Bournemouth need an alarm clock
Maybe the Bournemouth players need more Weetabix before games, because they sure take their time to find their groove. The Cherries only scored 18% of their goals in the first 30 minutes of a game – 8% lower than the PL average, and 56% in the final 30 – 16% higher than the PL average! On the other side of the ball, they concede evenly throughout the game, so they often find themselves behind. They scored the first goal in just 34% of games last year and won 24 points from losing positions. If Bournemouth could start games as well as they finish them, they could be dangerous.

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Brexit, the Mental Health Syndrome

If it’s somehow passed you by, we are a few months away from self-destruction. The likelihood of a no deal Brexit has drastically increased after recent events in the commons, and contingency plans are now being formed for such a scenario. Industries are planning to stockpile foods, medicines, and fuel if we crash out of the European Union, and the Army are being put on standby to ferry supplies around the country to those without easy access to such goods.

The future of healthcare after Brexit is especially precarious. The government plans to leave the single market and customs union, the arrangements that currently deliver health services, goods, and workforce to the UK. The economy will be taking a drastic hit at a time when the NHS is already chronically underfunded, and pressures are all year round. But there’s one area that doesn’t receive the amount of attention it deserves, the effect of Brexit on mental health.

Firstly, there was the decision itself. To many, the vote to leave was a complete shock and brought about feelings of insecurity due to the uncertain political, economic and personal consequences ahead. All of our lives are dependent on the future deal struck by the government, but especially so are the lives of the 3.2 million EU citizens in the UK and the 1.2 million UK citizens living or working across the EU. For two years now, their lives have been in limbo, unsure of their rights after March 2019. The UK and EU agreed in principle late last year for the same rights to apply to both parties, but a no deal Brexit would throw that out of the window.

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What Changes Now?

If like me you’ve been scrolling through Twitter endlessly today, you might think the government is in the middle of collapsing. After David Davis and Steve Baker’s resignation just before midnight last night, and Boris Johnson following suit this afternoon, it’s easy to see why. After a supposed cabinet agreement was produced at Chequers last week, the two Brexit heavyweights decided that enough was enough, and left in protest to the governments swing towards a softer Brexit.

This afternoon in the commons May was defiant. She talked up her Chequers deal, and in a likely attempt to put an end to any further resignations reminded her party that we would be leaving the single market, customs union, and ending free movement of people into the country. Which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t match the message coined last week. As broken by Kevin Schofield a couple of hours ago, May and her team have also maintained that she will fight on regardless, and will take on any vote of no confidence put forward by the backbenches.

It’s hard to see why that wouldn’t be the case. Sure, the ERG and the backbenches have the numbers to put in their letters to Brady, but I highly doubt they have the numbers to win the vote. Many Tory MPs who currently sit on the fence know that a change in leader would lead to a leader in favour of no deal, and arguably could lead to Corbyn making his way into number 10. May also knows that if she does fend off the vote of no confidence party rules maintain she would be safe for a further 12 months, which would take us well into the transitional period of leaving the EU.

As I put forward in a piece late last year, Theresa May has always been merely a tool for the Tories as long as they need her. Whoever leads throughout the Brexit process will be tainted afterwards, and many leading Tory candidates will want to avoid this. May was, and still likely is, the person that will deliver Brexit, and would then likely resign or be forced out shortly after. Many colleagues would rather hold off and use the ‘Brexit betrayal’ line, and few Conservatives will want May anywhere near another general election after last year’s debacle.

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Don’t Fold on Immigration

Earlier this month parliament voted against a Lords amendment to chase EEA membership, one reason being the Labour leadership choosing to abstain, and some Labour MPs even choosing to side with the government. It seems we don’t have an opposition when it comes to Brexit. Despite many rebelling to vote for the amendment, the general consensus on the opposition’s benches was that an EEA deal would be betraying the vote. You know, that voting form that had the two options: ‘remain in the single market’ or ‘leave the single market’…

As the single market comes with the four freedoms, an EEA deal would likely lead to freedom of movement continuing. Something that seemingly we voted for an end to. As I’ve mentioned plenty of times before, the idea that anyone voted for anything beyond leaving the EU is nonsense. Of course, immigration played a key part in the referendum and the campaign of the Leave side, but when you speak to those who voted Leave, many will tell you foreigners were not the issue.

Of course, the reaction was to believe that they were the reason. And why not. The theme of the past few years globally has been anti-immigration, anti-liberty, and one of shut up shop and lock the doors. With the vote for Trump, the rise of Le Pen, Orban etc, all of which ran on anti-immigration stances, globalisation and the movement of people has been given a smack in the jaw.

The problem is, the issue of immigration is consistently overhyped. Whilst many do want immigration reduced, to most it doesn’t rank among their top issues. Roughly 30% rank it as a top issue, whereas around half believe that immigration is a positive for both the economy and culture. The key fact is that the UK public has become far more positive about immigration in recent years, and the same applies across the pond. 75% of Americans say that immigration is a good thing and just 35% are calling for lower levels of immigration, a figure that has almost halved from the mid-1990s. The argument that an America at its most positive about immigration voted for Trump due to his strong immigration stances is folly.

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