In the news: Stress, Anxiety and Canadian Youth – my response

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Global News is airing a week of segments on Children’s Mental Health, sponsored by RBC Children’s Mental Health Project.

Monday’s segment: Young Minds: Stress, Anxiety Plaguing Canadian Youth; is available online, with video links.

The comments in the written article are interesting. I can understand why mental health is still considered ‘taboo’. With critics blaming everything from parents (labelled selfish), to technology (distraction), to the education system (everyone wins), the reality is no one is taking ownership of the situation.

My Experience

Life was stressful for me as a teen, I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. It wasn’t my education system as I never got a single award, though I proved my math teacher wrong. It wasn’t my parents, who encouraged and supported me. It wasn’t my friend pressuring me, though I was bullied. The activities I pursued, all of which I enjoyed thoroughly, helped me prioritize and balance. For me, all my stress was internal, it all came from within and I felt the weight of having to accomplish something great very early on. I had to succeed at everything I tried, whether sports, classes, or music. I needed to do well, not my parents, not my teachers, not my friends. Me. This was how I wanted people to perceive me. I couldn’t distinguish between letting others down, and letting myself down.

I can only imagine some of the students my mom teaches, who have other pressures constantly pressed upon them. Bullying is public, and keeps an online record. Parents want children in professions. Extracurricular activities in the best schools mean being involved in more than just soccer and band at school, it means constantly filling up a schedule.

I thrive in a routine-based environment, but even I wonder: Where do children discover themselves in their pre-scheduled existence? Where is the freedom to fail?

Maybe we should ask students: How do you feel you’re perceived? How do you want to be seen? And by whom?

So, what do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Do you think stress is the biggest mental health issue children face today? How can we address stress for children and teens? How do you address stress? How did you address stress in your life as a young adult?

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