Open letter: labelling children as ‘snowflakes’ is actively damaging

14 December 2018

The following letter was written by Natasha Devon MBE and sent to the Daily Star on 14th December 2018, and we share it below as co-signatories: 

To the Editor of the Daily Star, 

We write regarding your headline on Monday 10th December 2018 ‘Snowflake Kids Get Lessons in Chilling’ above a story about a school offering mindfulness and meditation to pupils.

As we are sure you are aware, Britain’s children are in the midst of a crisis in mental health. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys aged 14 has self harmed in the past year. Five children in every classroom has a diagnosable mental health condition. Anxiety is the fastest growing illness in under 21s and suicide remains the second biggest killer of boys and young men aged 10-25. In this climate, millions of children and their parents are desperately seeking solutions.

In the context of brutal cuts to child and adolescent mental health services, the onus has fallen on schools to provide preventative measures to help children with their mental health. As a result, many schools have chosen to use a portion of their already stretched budgets to provide mindfulness, meditation and other lessons which have been shown to support wellbeing for their pupils. For this they should be applauded.

Children exist in an ever more competitive and fraught environment, often with scant support available for academic, money and family concerns. To label them ‘snowflakes’ was, therefore, not only incorrect but actively damaging to an already vulnerable demographic.

In light of all of the above we, who have dedicated our careers to challenging stigma and increasing support for British people struggling with mental ill health, would appreciate a prominent apology and/or retraction.

We look forward to your response,

Natasha Devon MBE, Founder of the Mental Health Media Charter

Luciana Berger MP, Chair of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health

Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the National Education Union

Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health

Emma Bailey, Campaigns Lead, Centre for Mental Health

Poppy Jaman OBE, CEO of City Mental Health Alliance

Eleanor Miller, Director of Marketing & Communication, Mental Health First Aid England

Zoe Bailie, Director of Brand and Innovation, The Mix

Jonny Benjamin MBE, Mental Health Campaigner

Hope Virgo, Mental Health Campaigner

Satveer Nijjar, Founder of Attention Seekers Self-Harm Training

Ruth Cooper-Dixon, Founder of Champs Consulting

Shahroo Izadi, Founder of Roocovery Ltd

Chris Hemmings, Author & Speaker on Positive Masculinity

The Team at Happiful Magazine

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