Youth anxiety is increasing in teens as the world around them changes.
Adolescents are becoming more likely to have anxiety as because the world is changing to form harsh expectations about themselves and those around them. There are frequent hopes that people get lots of likes on social media or fit into the societal norms of being the right size and posting the right things. www.nami.org states that 50% of all lifetime mental health cases begin at age 14, which are teens who are in their freshman year of high school. The need for perfection circulates throughout schools and homes, and teens often feel they need to match the models found on Instagram or Snapchat. It is a growing issue throughout the United States due to the increase in social media use and societal standards that fall onto the shoulders of students everywhere.
First, a significant reason for youth anxiety is the perceived need for perfection. People find themselves scrolling through their social media feeds and looking around their classrooms feeling self-conscious. This stress is induced because there is a certain body type that is considered ‘prettier’ than other shapes and sizes. This can lead others to feel so uncomfortable that they can develop eating disorders for the sole purpose of fitting in with society’s expectations of having a nice figure. It is imperative to emphasize that being different is okay, and not being a model in the magazines will still allow them to become great people. Teens are feeling so pressured to be like the “popular kids” that they are putting on pounds of makeup and even eating less. Social media is such a big industry in this day and age, so it is very important for teens to know that it is okay to be different; otherwise they can be at an even higher risk of having anxiety.
The school environment has always been a contributing factor to teen anxiety. Whether it is the amount of homework that is scaring them or the physical changes happening to their bodies, teens are feeling increasingly anxious as they progress through high school. Jeremy Anderson, R-Z counselor, explained, “Anxiety is something that all generations have felt and still feel, but the way anxiety is induced is completely different than previous years. There’s social media, technology and other things that students feel they can’t escape from.” Another reason for this is that the world around them is also changing significantly. Many students are becoming fearful of shootings or lockdowns within the walls of their school.Current events of society can lead to teenagers feeling they are at a higher risk of these events happening to them. A rather important factor that can contribute to youth anxiety is college pressures. Students are forced to look at colleges as young as age 13, even though they might not need to. Lots of students are becoming nervous that they are not properly prepared for life after high school, which can trigger various levels of anxiety. School and society are becoming more intertwined as the current events are leading straight into the classroom, like school shootings, can cause youth anxiety to increase to abnormal levels.
Another cause of youth anxiety is fear of parental disapproval. Many students are in an awkward stage in their lives where they feel that they need the approval of their parents, while also wanting to rebel against any form of authority. Students often feel anxious when they do not meet the expectations of their parents, yet they do things that their parents would not approve of regardless. There is also the other side of teenagers, where all they want to do is the opposite of what an authority is telling them, which can cause them to become involved with things like drugs and alcohol, which they do not know how to handle. Both of these situations are normal for teenagers, but it is stress-inducing for both the children and parents in the situation. Parental disapproval will most likely be something that children fear, but it is usually at its worst during the teenage years, when they are in an uncomfortable stage in their life and feel they need the loving support of their parents.
Even though most teenagers have varying anxiety levels, there is a fix to nearly all of it. Exercise is always a very positive way to brighten up a day. Working out releases great energies that leave people feeling motivated to get people through the rest of the day. Therapy is always an amazing option. There is no shame in admitting that a person needs help. Talking through a situation with a trusted adult can be very fulfilling for someone who can tend to keep things bottled up. There are many places around the TJ community where students can get help. Counselors, as well as psychologist Natalie Koncz and social worker Samantha Davis, tare all very willing and able to help students navigate anxiety and other issues. “Students will always find reasons to become anxious about something, and we are always here to support you through it, go through some of the taboos involved in their anxiety, and change the view that anxiety is a normal thing to experience, and it can be treated,” Anderson explained. There is also an in-school therapist, Rebecca Voit, who specializes in helping students with youth anxiety. School administrators and teachers are also happy to help students with their troubles. All in all, if anyone reading this feels they are struggling with anxiety, or they know someone who does, know that no one is alone and there are many resources that can provide help.