I feel helpless.
And because of the way my mind works, I want to fix it.
And I can’t.
And I hate that.
I’m not sure why it’s happening, but young people today are stressed, anxious and depressed – and it’s heartbreaking to see it unfold.
My students are struggling, and I can see it in their faces. I want to make them smile and I can’t.
My daughters struggle too. One afternoon one was sobbing into my shoulder – soaking my shirt and crushing my heart – and she had no idea why she was so sad.
A recent Associated Press story said more college students are seeking mental health counseling than ever before – and many are waiting weeks to be seen. Since 2014, counseling visits at the largest public universities in each state (39 states participated) increased by 35%.
The number of counselors at these schools rose on average from 16 to 19 over that time.
But what are the reasons for the increase?
Why wasn’t mental health and counseling visits on campuses skyrocketing three decades ago when I was in school?
Is it the oft-blamed Social media?
Young people sure are dominated by their feeds.
They just are.
Some NEED their feeds and the validation it provides. (It’s not just young people on this one, either.) But social media is pressure too. I see it with my own kids.
We didn’t have social media 30 years ago, so is that it? Seems too easy.
Broken homes? More obligations at home? Work?
There were broken homes back then too, and most of us worked, so I’m not sure.
Well, students certainly are very aware of help available to them these days. I think educators are more aware of mental health needs down to the grade school level. I think availability of services is a factor.
I honestly don’t remember any discussion of counseling services when I attended then Castleton State College. It probably was discussed at orientation, but it wasn’t advertised like now and I don’t feel early intervention teams were a thing.
Is it the state of the world? I know my daughters don’t love our current standing in the world and they’re concerned about the unfolding climate change impact.
And I do feel that kids grow up to fast now. It’s undeniable the average 12-year-old these days has seen more (thanks to the internet) and lived more than the average 12-year-old in the ‘80s. The internet provides too much, in my opinion. These students have also dealt with the daily reality their school could host the next school shooting.
We didn’t worry about that.
But as I walk through possible reasons in my mind, the bottom line is, I’m not sure any of us know if there is “A” cause of this mental health plague on our young people, but I hate it and wish I could fix it.
– David Blow