Depression and anxiety are not new ideas. Most of us have experienced depression or anxiety on some level – especially in our adolescent years.
I don’t know about you, but I am so glad my teen years are behind me and that I don’t have to contend with the social media culture as a teenager. Can you imagine if your bad perm or first taste of Boone’s Farm was floating around on the web forever more?
Teens today are facing more pressure to compete and compare than we can relate to. Maybe even as an adult, you are feeling the pressure. I know I do. Instagram is full of filtered, staged, and edited photos of perfect homes, children, food, and eyelashes! I can’t keep up. But I have the benefit of wisdom with age to temper the expectations I put on myself.
This week’s podcast featured Sherilyn Garner of A Friend of Mind. We talked a lot about mental disorders and erasing the stigma. AFM uses yoga and other resources to education youth on mental health and give them tools to deal with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
The thing that really stuck with me was that our teens are having feelings that they don’t even have language for. As parents, mentors, and fellow humans, we must have the hard conversations. We must show our teens that they are not alone. They need to know that it is safe to say, “I’m not feeling okay” or ask, “what is happening in my mind?” without being judged or labeled.
My challenge to you, parents and friends of teens, is to take some time during the holidays to talk to them about what’s going on in their lives. Don’t belittle their struggles by labeling it as “teen angst” or telling them they will grow out of it. Get them help if they need help!
AFM has wonderful resources and information on their website. Go check it out and then use what you’ve learned to give our teens some hope. That may be the best gift you can give them this Christmas!