Mental Stressors Facing Teens ?

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“1 in 6 US youth, ages 6-17, experience a mental health disorder each year.”

Read that again!

As the head coach of a high school volleyball team, that means at LEAST one girl on the court during a match, at any given moment, is internally struggling with a mental health crisis. This may present itself in a variety of ways. Some of the more common mental health disorders in adolescence are anxiety and stress disorders, depression, attention deficit and hyperactivity issues, as well as eating disorders.

As someone who has struggled with depression myself (ugh), recently, in my mid-twenties, self-care is something I am super keen on and I try to be very cognizant of my girls’ mental well-being. Being an empath, it’s not challenging to pick up on drastic changes in my high school girls’ mood, temper, appetite, enthusiasm, etc.

Life is hard enough for kids; without BULLYING.

With the constant pressures of keeping up with the Jones’ along with everyone else and their seemingly perfect lives on Instagram, replying to each Snap chat (with the coolest filter and voice changer), responding to your parents via text message or Face Time, all while trying to keep up with your homework, your extra curricular schedule, eat regularly, and maintain a social life, maybe even a romantic relationship, it is HARD.

Just typing that sentence made me feel like I was in one of those new Instant Pots. Kids have this constant pressure to juggle a million things a day and crave instant gratification! Being able to self regulate your emotions juggling all of these things is one thing; but, being bullied while trying to live a “normal” life while your hormones are going wild is a recipe for disaster.

From a psychological, adult standpoint, once you consciously understand how frequently people of all ages cope by projecting their inner emotions, it becomes a (little bit) easier to understand how everyone’s reactivity isn’t always personal. This is certainly something I struggle with, and life has a funny way of presenting you with the same scenarios until you learn your lesson.

When I was in high school, some of the more memorable occurrences I can remember of cyber bullying happened on popular platforms like MySpace, Twitters, and AIM messenger. But, without our smart phones glued to us at all times, we were quickly able to leave those new age digital problems on the home computer (HA!), and resort to playing outside, or simply enjoying a slumber party with friends. Nowadays, adolescents can’t get away from all of the potential ways to connect with one another, unfortunately sometimes in a manner that favors hiding behind a key board to demonstrate how you really feel about someone, with an infamous attraction to doing it via Snap chat.

Conversations and photos that were always intended to be private, and frankly ones that shouldn’t have been typed at all, are being shared, with the intentions of being secretive, when the receiver is then able to take a screenshot to use almost as blackmail or vengeance.

So how can we help shelter our athletes, our students, and our KIDS, from harmful interactions that can cause larger mental health issues farther down the road?! Cybersmile.org suggests the following tips to give to our children that can pertain to bullying and cyber bullying:

  • Don’t Retaliate – As hard as it might be, do not respond to abusive threats. When you retaliate, you may be accused of bullying as well. Plus, bullies are usually looking for a rise.
  • Tell someone you TRUST – Bullying must be taken seriously; hence, why you should never have to deal with it alone. New ideas on the situation can help you find boundaries and solutions.
  • Think before you CLICK – Most problems that happen online stem from a misunderstanding or miscommunication. So, my advice would be to think about what you would express to someone in person, and pause, before typing your message.
  • Don’t get caught up and don’t be a bystander – Don’t pass on rude comments, meant to hurt the other party. It’s always best to reach out to the victim if you can, in order to check in with how they are feeling, and see if they need support in getting help.
  • REPORT cyber bullying – Report all forms of bullying! Don’t just stand by and let it continue. You can report to any trusted adult like a parent, teacher, coach, neighbor, etc.

I think we can all agree that school bullying, as well as cyber bullying, is something to be concerned about. It’s an area of concern that gets a lot of media attention, despite the anti-bullying laws and rules in place. It is so much more than kids being mean to one another. Find a few internet links on ways to address bullying in our article “End Cyber-bullying” . Locally in Williamson County The Georgetown Project is also available for assistance with children and teenagers in a variety of support roles. Young adults and teens check out Teen Life Blog they are also at a high school near you.

Lets start early with our babies and teach how to just breathe through it sometimes before reacting. Lets teach them social and emotional skills throughout their lives; as we teach them to love to travel and relax .Lets teach our babies to be present as much as possible; and to recognize that It feels good to treat ourselves, as well as others, with such inexplicable kindness.