It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, so here at The Optimist Daily, we want to shine a light on this important subject. We’re committed to helping break the stigma around mental illness, educating more people, and showing solidarity with those who are impacted by them.
Over the past two years, this subject has come to the forefront of people’s concerns. The stress, isolation, and uncertainty of the pandemic have taken a toll on everyone’s well-being, especially teens. Anxiety disorders among teens have drastically risen in recent years, with studies showing depression and anxiety increasing at least 10 percent annually since 2010. Here are some of the reasons why.
Positivity is great until it’s not. Our toxic positive culture has taught young people that being happy all the time is an achievable goal, with many parents thinking it’s their job to make sure their child is happy twenty-four seven. This is simply unrealistic and teaches people to suppress completely normal emotions such as anger, sadness, and frustration, leading to higher rates of anxiety.
Social media and technology
Constant access to the internet has given younger generations with a whole new set of challenges in the digital age. Instead of facing feelings of sadness, worry, and boredom head-on, young people can refocus their attention on screens. Studies have shown that children have been conditioned to avoid discomfort through the use of electronics, replacing the chance to build resilience and coping mechanisms.
Social media also exacerbates self-confidence and body image issues, giving teens constant, unrealistic, and unhealthy standards to hold themselves to. Constant connection to social media can also mean no chances for children to take time for themselves and have healthy breaks.
Cultural and societal changes
The cultural and political awakenings in regard to race, gender, socioeconomic status, climate change, sexuality, and more are creating a more inclusive world. This is ultimately for the greater good, however, this ever-changing environment and the expectation that comes along with it can put a lot of pressure on teens. Research has shown that many teens feel pressure on this front and worry that they may not be on par with their peers.
Being a teenager is hard enough, with a changing body, pressures, and understanding of the world, anxiety is another added pressure that can be extremely overwhelming. By taking an understanding approach to these issues teens are facing, you can help them feel heard and understood through their mental health struggles. For more ways you can support teens facing anxiety, check out these tips.