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ZaynPain - The real mental health issue

How did you feel when you found out that Zayn Malik had left One Direction?

Shocked? Devastated? Not bothered?

Priory experts have been alarmed by national news reports about a rise in mental health problems and self harming, and harmful social media activity apparently advocating self harming, after Zayn's departure. Some Twitter hashtags may be hoaxes, but self harming is a very real problem that Priory sees every day.

Priory experts look to explain the reaction, and how fans can manage their emotions.

A genuine reaction

Dr Niall Campbell, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Roehampton, said: “the enormous reaction to Zayn Malik's departure highlights two things. Firstly, the enormous pressures of fame on people's lives - the relentless work pressure, constant focus on their private life and being constantly ‘in demand’ can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, and depression, and sometimes substance abuse.

“At Priory, we often see patients who need help with all these conditions. The distress we see in the fans demonstrates our increasingly celebrity-obsessed culture, the new ‘religion’ especially amongst the young. However it is important not to dismiss this as silly teenage behaviour but acknowledge that young people are desperately seeking something to believe in, and feel genuine sadness in these kinds of situations. We must treat them empathetically, and not dismiss their genuine emotions.”

Managing emotions

Dr Campbell continues: “we are all too well aware at Priory of the disturbing national trend for adolescents to show their distress and anxiety by deliberately self-harming, usually by cutting themselves superficially rather than having suicidal intent. For some of those who are fans, one of the ways of dealing with their upset at the departure of Zayn Malik may be to cut themselves. 

“We’d strongly urge young people to seek out professional help to discuss their issues, which are very real for them. Help is definitely available.”

Dr Faeza Khan, Consultant Adolescent Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal in Cheshire, added: “the departure from One Direction of Zayn Malik is clearly a loss for young people. They see the boyband as role models. What is really important is being able to help young people manage loss and build up emotional resilience.

“It’s crucial that parents and carers talk to their children and don’t tell them off or belittle as this creates an immediate barrier.”

Commenting on reports that a trending hashtag urging youngsters to self-harm for Zayn may be a hoax, she said: “social media is hugely suggestive and young people are impressionable. On top of that, young people coping with loss and distress are extremely vulnerable because they do not have the confidence to verbally communicate their distress. They are using social media rather than verbal communication whereas they need to be around people they trust that they can talk to.

“I’d really urge parents and carers to look out for early warning signs of self-harming and talk to their children in a genuinely supportive manner, and seek help which is out there.”

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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding young people's mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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