Melissa, Emily, Forty Six Hundred Students discussed on The Takeaway

The Takeaway


It's really quite awful now. There have been complaints there too much school. So they're cutting class down which isn't great. These are the voices of teens talking with the women's interest website. She knows dot com back. In april of two thousand twenty one schools had only been closed for about a month so nearly eighteen months later. Isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic combined with the pressure is to achieve and perform well during the past year has heightened anxiety depression and thoughts of self harm among teens a recent op. Ed in the new york times review startling results from multiple studies showing that the mental wellness of adolescence has deteriorated. Significantly and as students return to in person classes in the fall reporting from the hedging. Our report shows that many schools are ill equipped to handle the decline in mental health. Joining me now. Is kate rix. Oakland based freelance writer with the hedging report kate. Welcome to the takeaway. Thank you nice to talk to you. Melissa and also joining me is emily. Esfahani smith is a doctoral student in clinical psychology and the author of the power of meaning. Emily welcome to the takeaway. Thanks for having me melissa fleming. Can you walk us through. What the pandemic has meant for the mental health of teens. So the sad facts are that there was already a mental health among teenagers adolescents even before the pandemic over the last decade we've seen rates of anxiety depression self harm suicidal think gang arising fairly dramatically among this group of teenagers. And what happened during the pandemic is that all of those trends accelerated and the question is is why Many teens are suffering as we heard their voices earlier there. They feel very anxious in particular about on academic goals and the pressure to achieve which strangely has accelerated over the past sixteen months. I thought that the pressure would have been alleviated. But that's not what's happened if not spinach causa of their Mental health concerns. It seems to be the part of what's happening in our public discourse right now as idea. Don't worry everything will be fine when we go back to normal. But kate in recent reporting. You found that schools aren't necessarily ready to manage this mental health crisis. This increased stressed that. Emily was just talking about. That's right melissa What emily was just saying about teens. Feeling the pressure to continue to achieve under the these very difficult. Circumstances only highlights the fact that the the need for on site mental health counseling services in public schools. Because a lot of times teenagers are in in some school districts. Like the one where. I live in oakland california There are actually school. Based health centers where social workers are present and teens can just walk in and make an appointment to talk to someone and it's confidential so if for example their parents are cause of stress in their life perhaps putting pressure on them that they can't quite map. You know meet that. This counseling is there for them and they don't have to ask their parents for help. Finding counseling so That to me. The the pandemic what i found was that the pandemic has as emily said only highlighted. How ill equipped. Our schools are to meet the need. Because you know i heard from a psychologist in chicago public schools. Who said that. He's responsible for forty six hundred students in his school. He's the only psychologist who works in that school and they said he said i feel like i'm doing triage most states Kate talk me a little bit more About that sense of students feeling like They don't have the support systems that they need. The teens that i spoke with were many of them. Were actually teens who you would think would be aware of whatever supports. Their schools had the teams that i spoke with included. A student vice president in las vegas who was unfortunately lost friends during the pandemic to Actually drug overdoses and this teenager was Informed that their friend had passed away and then there was really nothing that the school could do to support. They they weren't there. Wasn't the staff available to provide grief counseling for students who had lost friends and this teenager in particular cayden mcknight who quote Wasn't even aware that there were. There are some apps for example. The district had put in place some apps to help students monitor their mental health. That would trigger staff at the district level if that team reported feeling that they needed help. the team. You know cayden wasn't aware that these services existed so. I think that there was a sense that the services are very are stover burdened and stretched but also the communication to teens themselves about what's available to them during the pandemic what we're not adequate and so While district's were aware the people that i spoke with definitely aware of the need and doing in some cases trent scrambling to put things together. The communications were really in place and so I heard from multiple students reports of that. They didn't know who would even reach out to if they wanted to talk to. Someone and yet emily. They were getting some kind of communication. The communication they seem to be getting was no matter. How bad it is. You still got to achieve. You still got to accomplish. Got to get into these colleges. You've got to get these hot grades. How is it that we were failing as communities as schools to communicate the resources available. But we're still communicating so much pressure. It's it's a great question and it's it's kind of a tragic reality. I think you know at the bottom of it is the good intentions of teachers and parents. A lot of people were thinking about students over the past. Sixteen seventeen months were worried about a year of loss learning lost milestones. And i can see with that fear in the background. Wanting to encourage students pressure students to push themselves to to continue getting good grades being involved in extracurricular activities perhaps in an online format. Things like odd. I'm really striking is that You know students reported in an international survey conducted by the organization challenge success that their parents their expectations during the pandemic didn't on for many of them they their expectations remain the same as before the pandemic and for many of those parents their expectations actually increased and so even though the parents addison's that their children were struggling. There was still this demand to perform that was placed on them and that was very difficult for students. Other research showed that one of the chief predictors of student. Depression and anxiety during the pandemic was parents. Unrealistic expectations placed on their on their children and parental criticism. As well and i think part of why we saw that accelerating with simply because parents and kids were spending more time in the home together and some parents were more likely to kind of be there on top of their Children making sure that they weren't looking over their shoulders on their laptops making sure that they weren't you know on social media instead of paying attention in class things like that. There was this kind of toxic brew of parental criticism. Unrealistic expectations and students Lacking sort of autonomy that they would have had under ordinary circumstances being at school away from the household. Yeah i certainly Girlfriends more than a few times that nature did not intend for us to be twenty four hours a day in the house with our teens. Like there's just no way that that is good for the parents or the kids right that need for autonomy development but only just quick second on. This isn't that also impart that we tend to discount teens. Feelings were like well. Yes they're emotional but that's just kind of how teens feel to really acknowledging how troubling this time was. I think that's right. I think that there is this idea that you know teenage years are promotional years. They're difficult years and the parents job is to keep their anchors and keel steady and move through this period ensuring they're achieving the important milestones goals like academic goals But but of course. I think we need to remember. Is that the pandemic was a national and collective stressor a trauma you know. As in her reporting many of these students lost their friends to suicide drug overdoses and she dismissed that the grief and all the loss that's arisen over the past seventeen years as just the normal emotional upheaval of teenage teenage period. I think is to do teams a real disservice and and speaking to them. I've seen a real craving yearning to have some sort of space and four on whether it's at home or at school to process their grief and and these losses kate rick's is an oakland based freelance writer with the hetch ingore report and s fani. Smith is a doctoral student in.

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