The youth of today live in a challenging, fast-paced world that often has them, and the adults living with them, overwhelmed and perplexed. Our humanity and moral values seem to be assailed from all angles by what we hear or see around us. This is enough, in and of itself, to create some stress and anxiety in us.
Living in this atmosphere, youth have their own stress and anxiety triggered by a number of factors. One major stressor is the breakdown of the family after parents have divorced. It is well-documented that no matter how well a divorce may go, stress and anxiety are among the after effects. With the absence of a parent or parents, there is less opportunity to observe and learn healthy boundaries and appropriate behavior within the home. On the other hand, overindulgent parenting of children from an early age can also lead to a sense of entitlement and lack of responsibility which brings stress later on.
Youth have become addicted to smart phones without enough supervision to limit their use of them. Too much screen time has led to what sociologists call the ‘deconstruction of childhood.’ Smart phones can become a constant distraction. Given the option to give up this distraction or fail in school, many will opt for failure . They may be stressed and anxious due to feeling pressure to be liked on social media. Bullying and public humiliatiation on social media leads not only to stress and anxiety, but in some cases, suicide, and a host of other emotional ills as well.
Finally, there is alcohol and drug misuse (mild, moderate, or severe), which is often a misguided effort to cope with stress and anxiety. Whether this is happening in the family with older adults, or with youth themselves, it goes almost without saying that it can lead to stress and anxiety! Then there are the youth who are over-scheduled or pressured to excel too much by themselves or parents, and are overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.
There is a lot we can do to assist youth, from very young ages through young adulthood, to mitigate and cope with stress and anxiety. In my next blog, I will talk about how we can help youth. Stay tuned…
Jeff Lucas, LCPC, CADC
Dunham Counseling Center