NUMBER 309• 10 JULY 2003 • BARRIERS TO HEALTHY LIFESTYLES
INDEX OF QUOTESReferences
There was little evidence of a positive culture within care that emphasises health, in its widest sense, as a priority issue. Young people believed that being in care, especially residential care, was a barrier to a healthy lifestyle. They suggested that residential staff did not take incidents of drug taking, smoking and drinking seriously enough, and wanted staff to exert more adult control and to 'teach people to be social drinkers' or 'not to drink at all'.
Worthy of mention is the finding that up to a third of young people had only started smoking (27 per cent), or taking drugs (31 per cent), or drinking alcohol (29 per cent) while in care. As the most frequent reasons teenagers give for having tried their first cigarette is 'to see what it was like' and peer pressure (Sweeting and West, 2000), such findings should be a cause for unease.
Young people commented that they smoked, took drugs and drank alcohol because they were 'stressed out in care', or to 'take the bad things away'. Kandel and Davies (1982) established a link between depressive mood and illicit drug use other than cannabis and suggested that some adolescents might use drugs as self-medication to relieve their depressed state. Young people in this study spoke about using substances less as a social activity, and more to 'forget the bad things'. Others talked about drink and drugs giving them self-confidence and helping them to relax.
Some felt they had been more physically active before they came into care and they wanted to be more active. Barriers to becoming more physically active included not having enough money to meet the costs of some sports or exercise and a lack of personal motivation and encouragement.
ROBIN JACKSON and ANGELIKA MONTEUX
Jackson, R. & Monteux, A. (2003) Promoting the Spiritual Well-being of Children and Young People with Special Needs. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care. Vol.2 p. 60
Kandel, D. B. & Davies, M. (1982). Epidemiology of depressive mood in adolescents: an empirical study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 39, 1205-1212
Sweeting, H & West, P. (2000) Teenage Health: The West of Scotland 11 to 16 Study. Glasgow: Glasgow MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow.