According to a brand new study from the Pew Research Centre, a new discovery has been made that found that seven in 10 teenagers identify anxiety and depression as a major problem they face day to day, as reported by The New York Times. While being a teenager typically comes with the assumption that synonymous like angst are a regular occurrence, it’s important to distinguish the typical teenage (and usually hormonal) behaviour from anxiety and depression, which are in most cases, diagnosable mental health conditions that are developed over time. However the study also discovered that while issues like bullying, substance use disorder, alcohol consumption, and gang violence were also typically found as a contributing problem, mental health was found to be the top concern among the 920 teenagers (and their parents) surveyed during the study. Additionally, only 4 percent of teenagers involved in the study reported that they didn’t identify mental health as a concern at all, while 26 percent said anxiety and depression were only minor problems.
Another study that consisted of 400 Nevada based teenagers was also recently conducted by Born This Way Foundation, which discovered that only one-third of non-LGBTQ participants rated their personal mental health highly. Interestingly enough, LGBTQ youth were also seen to be half as likely to rate their mental health highly, were more likely to seek treatment virtually versus in person, and less likely to disclose mental health concerns to a parent or guardian. What’s more, lack of access and/or their lack of knowledge about where to seek help for mental health issues was identified as a significant barrier to treatment for all teenagers.
“What teens need most is to know they can express themselves in a safe and nonjudgmental way, and that they will not scare off the listening ear they choose to trust with their thoughts and feelings, whether that is a parent or other trusted adult,” Dr. Lindsay Henderson, a psychologist who treats patients virtually via Telehealth app LiveHealth Online stated, according to a statement made to Bustle.
So, why exactly do teenagers typically have more troubles with depression and anxiety? Aside from having more pressure than previous generations to perform well in school and extracurricularly, teenagers are now growing up in a time where they have never known a time without social media and the social impact and stress it can have on individuals.
Philip Kendall, director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University in Philadelphia, told The New York Times that FOMO and the pressure to appear to be living their best lives on social media (which he likened to constant surveillance) can increase anxiety in teenagers, yet it unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
Another statement on the topic came from Lynn Bufka, an associate executive director at the American Psychological Association, also told The New York Times recently that a difference could be seen in teenagers if better mental health screening practices were encouraged and made into common practice in teenagers. What’s more, it’s clear that this is necessary.
Dr. Henderson advises that staying calm is an important part of providing mental health assistance. “If what you hear frightens or alarms you, do your best to stay calm while with them and then seek your own education or support; educate yourself so that you can be the best help possible. Let them know they are accepted and loved no matter what they tell you.”
Despite the regularity of mental health conditions like Depression and Anxiety, the awareness surrounding the conditions have also increased significantly with the new generation, leading to many new ways to help cope with the stress it can cause.