By: Maddie VanHorn
Today’s teens are more stressed than those growing up in other generations. This increased level of stress contributes to increased mental health issues and other health concerns. A national survey conducted by USA Today found that teens believe high stress levels “negatively affect every aspect of [their] lives.” It is believed that many teens mirror adult stress habits, which could lead to a future filled with chronic stress, as well as chronic illness and potentially shorter lifespans. However, the reasons for the increase in teen stress levels is highly debated. While some blame the distractions of new technologies, or increased demands in school, some question whether the high stress levels reported are accurate at all. “Some experts question whether stress is merely a convenient excuse for teen behaviors”(Jayson). Maybe “stress” is just a response teens have to any task they do not want to complete. Some say that kids growing up in the 21st century do not know what real stress is, so they interpret any type of challenge as a source of high stress. However, the other mental illnesses linked to stress are a clear indication of the changes in teen mental health over the decades. Today’s teens are “more anxious and depressed than they’ve ever been.”
While high stress may increase risks for other health concerns, teens must experience some level of stress to prepare them mentally for the stress of college and their carers. “Some degree of stress is very therapeutic and an appropriate amount of stress is what helps us become strong. The hard part is [finding what level is] appropriate”(Jayson), and providing teens with ways to handle their stress to minimize its damage on their mental health. The American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychology states that it is important for teens to develop assertive training skills, so that they can express how overwhelmed they feel, and get help managing their tasks. Teens should be taught practical coping skills (like breaking down tasks into more manageable parts) and should understand that not everything has to be perfect. In addition, exercise, eating regularly, and avoiding excessive caffeine intake, are important actions to help combat stress.
What do you believe is the main cause for higher stress rates among today’s teens?
Jayson, Sharon. “Teens Feeling Stressed, and Many Not Managing It Well.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 11 Feb. 2014, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/11/stress-teens-psychological/5266739/.