Anxiety and depression have been increasing steadily since the 1930s. There are many implications that high stress lifestyles and increased financial responsibilities are contributing to these problems. Unfortunately, this is a problem that is affecting our children at younger ages than ever before. Difficulties at school, home, and various social situations are a part of the issue. High expectations and little relief from financial burdens puts adults and children, alike in situations that are compromising mental health.
It is not that academics were not important in past years. The impact of higher expectations in education, however, seems to have taken a toll. The pressure to succeed academically has increased due to the inability to get a job without a high level degree. Many children watch their parents struggle to make ends meet, reinforcing the need for excellent grades to enter a college program.
Bullying is also a major contributor to anxiety and depression. Recent incidences have even led to suicides. Even kids in elementary school are reporting the feelings of depression and anxiety. Bullying is not a new concept. Most people have experienced at some time or another. The severity of it, however, seems to be increasing. Social media is one catalyst to this increase. Children today are often taught to remain passive in the face of bullying. Fighting back is not encouraged. Mentally, children today are not emotionally prepared to cope with bullying. A focus on strength and other coping skills may be the answer to preparing kids for school environments.
Gone are the days when children would come home and immediately run outside to play with friends. The absence of parents in the home during after-school hours means that indoor activities are the only option. Financial resources are often short, making it necessary for both parents to work. Single parent families are also on the rise. Children used to have more interaction with neighborhood kids. The social isolation is taking its toll.
Divorce is a common occurrence in today’s society, as well. Many children do not have a stable home environment due to their parent’s marriage complications. Physical and mental abuse often stem from financial stress, as well. The higher cost of living, coupled with a very low minimum wage has resulted in many children living in poor conditions and lacking necessities. The trauma of poverty can easily contribute to the onset of anxiety and depression.
Children should have a somewhat enjoyable experience in their early lives. When adversity does arise, they need to be prepared with adequate coping skills. Home life needs to be stable in a child’s early years to lay the foundation for mental health. The structure of our society has shifted financially and socially, resulting in less time to focus on preparing children to deal with life, in general.