The boss of a Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge mental health support charity has this week called on PM Rishi Sunak to urgently copy America in pushing for a ban on ‘sinisterly addictive’ social media apps for kids.
Dawn Carey, CEO of Burnham and Highbridge charity In Charley’s Memory, says charities such as hers are struggling under the “earthquake” of mental health disorders among the young.
Amid many factors, she says that a “monumental” responsibility for the surge falls on the “sinisterly addictive” social media apps such as TikTok, Instagram and more.
With the mental health pandemic at rising levels, and worsening, she and others at In Charley’s Memory (pictured below) are calling for the same legal changes that American politicians are pushing for.
This month in an unprecedented move, four senior parent politicians introduced simple legislation that would ban all children under 13 from using social media. The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act would also require parental consent for children aged 13 to 18.
And in the groundbreaking bill, platforms would be banned from using algorithms to recommend content to those young users. Adults would have to create an account for their teens, providing a valid form of ID to become users on a platform, according to the bill.
In Charley’s Memory says it has seen demand for their services go up by 1000% since it was set up following the death of Charley Marks aged 18. Now they are motivated to ensure there are ‘No more Charleys’.
They are helping young people across Somerset and beyond as the crisis in mental health gets worse. They say that they will never turn away any children – no matter where they come from.
Dawn Carey told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Enough is enough, absolutely beyond enough. The UK Prime Minister has to recognise that the mental health crisis is not just an ordinary crisis. It’s the biggest thing to hit this country since World War Two. Yes it is really that bad.”
“Masses of kids and young people are suffering mental health so bad they don’t want to go to school, are miserable, suffering a host of social phobia and addictions, and often don’t want to live. This is a disgrace.”
“The problem is that the social media companies don’t seem to care, and are making billions of pounds out of children. And the politicians don’t either understand or care. And it’s the poor children, millions of them in the middle, who are being forgotten about.”
“It’s more than a crisis, we have entered mental armageddon. Another second to act is really too long.”
“We have never seen before in history the mental state of our young people. I’m not prepared to do nothing. We get no funding either and so the Government have no idea of the real and true figures of how many young people are affected. They only count the work of CAMHS, but they have so few workers and the waiting list is two years long. This is a disgrace, bordering on criminal.”
In Charley’s Memory is now helping 167 children a week but has to raise its own funds, she adds. They received lottery money last year that was initially used to build and furnish eight new counselling rooms at its base in Highbridge.
In the American move, there are four lawmakers sponsoring the bill, Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Alabama’s Katie Britt alongside Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, who say America’s mental health crisis weighs most heavily on adolescents, especially young girls.
One of the politicians, Sen Katie Britt, told American media that “parent after parent” came up to her wanting to discuss the way social media was harming their kids. Britt also navigates the issue in her own home, as the mother of a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old.