Why is it that I seem to hear more and more stories of stressed out and anxiety ridden young people? Over the summer I have asked my self this question and tried to understand why it is that so many adolescents and young adults are resorting to harmful measures to deal with everyday life. All to often I hear of beautiful and talented young people either self harming, abusing substances, struggling with eating disorders, or with suicidal thoughts. It scares me to think of what society is doing to create, what appears to me, to be an epidemic of stressed out young people.
Firstly, I am certain that when I was growing up there were friends who may have struggled with some of the above concerns but less was known or even worse many struggled in silence. With the onslaught of media and internet much more is talked about and more social problems are reported. In short, it is a much more open society now. Although social stigmas still persist in mental health, more and more people are opening their eyes to understanding that sometimes your brain gets sick and needs medical supervision. We go to the doctors when we are physically sick, so what is stopping people from going when they are mentally sick? In what should be the simplest, most carefree time of one’s life, young people seem to be seriously struggling with mental issues due to the high demands our society have placed on them. My question and biggest concern is why and what are we doing wrong with the younger generation?
I thought about this most of my summer. I listened to the many teens around me and I concluded: kids are not kids anymore. Long gone are the summers of running around gathering the neighbourhood kids to play an impromptu game of sport, or to go for a bike ride to the local stores or swimming pool to meet up with friends. I over heard lavish plans of work experience, SAT prep classes, exotic travel plans to help build homes in under privileged areas and exam concerns. One girl even worried that her college resume would look like she didn’t do anything over the summer. My response was, what is wrong with not doing anything over the summer? Isn’t the whole idea of school break to relax and recharge your batteries so you can come back to school with a clear mind to explore and learn and take on all the demands of high school and college life? When did being bored in the summer become a bad thing?
Quite the contrary, being bored can be a good thing and many times down time can cause kids to be creative and expand their minds naturally. Every minute does not need to be methodically planned out. I managed to tell this young person to tell your potential college that you read a few books, caught up on some much needed sleep, played board games with family and friends, had a camp fire with sing alongs and s’mores, or just took time to feel the grass between your toes. If I were on the admittance board of a top university I would say well done, this young adult is ready to take on college life and the demands this world will put on him or her. There is plenty of time to work and be stressed. Adult life has many stressful roads that cannot be avoided. However, in your childhood and teenage years, you are supposed to be carefree and allow yourself this short lived luxury of no agendas or deadlines. School breaks are supposed to be exactly that: “a break from school”. There are plenty of pressures throughout the school year but, in the summer, kids should be given the chance to relax and recharge. Something has to change. We need to let our kids be kids again.
About The Author
Renee Dean Hall is a full time mother of three wonderful young adults who make her proud everyday. She spends a good majority of her days on the tennis courts competing in friendly leagues and tournaments. She is passionate about fitness, living healthy and enjoying downtime with her family in London.