Discussions on mental health and wellness have been on the rise as the world has taken notice of the consequences of ignoring the problem at hand — anxiety and its effects on today’s youth. Increasingly, mental health professionals are being faced with children and adolescents coming into their offices to discuss the internal and external pressures they are experiencing in their daily lives. More often than not, high school aged clients are expressing their insecurities surrounding their grades in school, time management (i.e., extra-curricular activities, homework, social lives), social media, and the overall feeling of not being “good enough”. Today’s youth are constantly being ‘sized up’ by their peers, teachers, coaches, parents, siblings, college admissions, etc. There is an overwhelming fear of failure and rejection in several areas of their daily lives that are not being properly addressed; rather they are put on the back burner for a later time.
Children and teens are facing feelings of anxiety and stress at an alarming rate. Through taking the time to see past the answers of “I’m fine” or “everything is okay”, we can begin to explore what is taking place in their daily lives. We need to make it safe to discuss the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that may arise. By allowing teens to hide behind mounds of homework or their computer and phone screens, we are encouraging them to isolate themselves. This can lead them to believe that they are alone in their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
It is of utmost importance that we begin to take a different stance when addressing the concerns of our youth. By being proactive in their lives we can notice the signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety. By doing this we can help today’s children an teens work through what is seemingly too difficult to withstand alone. Let us not feed into the symptoms and instead challenge them in a productive and safe manner. Let us get comfortable with talking about the uncomfortable.
To gather more information and read about personal experiences of adolescents, teachers, parents, and mental health professionals, head to this article written in the New York Times.