TEEN DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, AND PRESSURE

According to an article in Time, Anxiety and depression in high school kids have been on the rise since 2012 after several years of stability. It's a phenomenon that cuts across all demographics--suburban, urban and rural; those who are college bound and those who aren't. Family financial stress can exacerbate these issues, and studies show that girls are more at risk than boys.

   

     Experts suspect that these statistics are on the low end of what's really happening, since many people do not seek help for anxiety and depression. A 2015 report from the Child Mind Institute found that only about 20% of young people with a diagnosable anxiety disorder get treatment. There are rising concerns that there will not be enough mental health professionals to treat these teens and college students even if they did seek treatment. It's also hard to quantify behaviors related to depression and anxiety, like nonsuicidal self-harm, because they are deliberately secretive. Cutting is also on the rise. Among girls 10 to 14 years old, rates of ER visits for treatment of self-harm surged 18.8% yearly between 2009 and 2015. Cutting is also thought to be addictive and contagious. 

 

REASONS WHY THEY MAY BE ANXIOUS AND DEPRESSED:

1) Technology and social media were transforming during their puberty. Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery reports "They're in a cauldron of stimulus they can't get away from, or don't want to get away from, or don't know how to get away from." Being a teenager today is a draining full-time job that includes doing schoolwork, managing a social-media identity and fretting about career, climate change, sexism, racism--you name it. Every fight or slight is documented online for hours or days after the incident. It's exhausting. It's also causing huge sleep disruptions which we know leads to poor mental health.

     "We're the first generation that cannot escape our problems at all," says a teen in TIME. "We're all like little volcanoes. We're getting this constant pressure, from our phones, from our relationships, from the way things are today."

     Experts are suggesting that teens need to hang out more with their friends, seek authentic connections, find more intrinsic motivation, compare less, decrease over-scheduling, and be in an environment where they are encouraged to be themselves.

2) Parents are also behaving like their teens. Many parents have been labeled as "Digitally Distracted." Many parents need to work on setting better limits and creating sacred no phone spaces.  A 2016 survey by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit children’s advocacy and media ratings organization, asked almost 1,800 parents of children aged 8 to 18 about screen time and electronic media use by the parents. The average amount of time that parents spent with screen media of all kinds (computers, TVs, smartphones, e-readers) every day: 9 hours and 22 minutes. And on average, only an hour and 39 minutes of that was work-related; 7 hours and 43 minutes were personal. Psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld, works with parents to restore parents to their natural intuition. His book, Hold on to Your Kids, focuses on more parent-child attachments. Another psychologist, Dr. Leonard Sax, has written the book The Collapse of Parenting  This book explains the recent phenomena of rushing through their childhood and how we hurt them when we treat them like adults.

3) School:  According to an article in Psychology Today, teens are expected to know what they want to do — where they want to go to school and in which field they'd like to work — earlier than ever before. They are also expected to do well, and are put on “success” tracks even in elementary school. They have to do well, because it is assumed that all kids will/must go to college, and not just that, but they must get into the best college if they want to “succeed” and be competitive in today’s job market. This is a lot of pressure on teens. You have one boss, your teenager has six.  Also new for teens is instant access to grades. Imagine coming home and knowing your parents saw your grades before you come home. 

4) TEACHER STRESS: To complicate the issue further, researchers found last year that stress levels among teachers could contribute to student stress.  Another survey by Gallup in 2016 found that 46 percent of teachers in America reported high daily stress levels, which means this problem could be more common than thought. What’s more, when teachers are stressed, students show lower levels of social adjustment and academic performance. Teachers do much more than teach academic lessons. They must also manage classroom behavior and keep an eye on helping students grow and develop socially in a healthy way. Additionally, they must coordinate with other adults and keep  meticulous records. According to CNN, countries in Europe, Asian countries and Canada, value, respect and pay their teachers more. "If we celebrate teachers, then it's more likely more people will want to do the job. I'd rather the world celebrate teachers more than Kim Kardashian," says Vikas Pota, CEO of the Varkey Foundation.