Kids these days. None of us adults truly know what it’s like to grow up in a society so rapidly changing, and not always for the better. Technology, violence, gender, sexuality, drugs – they’re all out in the open like never before.
As we mark Mental Health Week across Canada this week, we wish to acknowledge the series of health centres launched by the province, offering an umbrella of services for youth with a specific focus on mental health. Our children and teens are spending more time on screens than we ever thought would be humanly possible. Photos and memes and gifs and tweets go whizzing by at break-neck speed, wreaking havoc in even the most stable of minds.We learned long ago about the impact devices were having on our mental health, so it can’t be surprising that statistics of youth depression, anxiety and suicide are rising. Information overload is real. Pressure to compete in an increasingly competitive world is real.
We’re teaching our young women to stand up for themselves, to dream bigger, and we’re teaching our young men to open up emotionally, while taking responsibility for their actions. And we’re teaching our gender-questioning youth to be themselves.
It’s a lot to digest at 40 years old, let alone at 18, and it’s got to be tough for the average middle-schooler.
Exposing our youth to the truth of the world at an earlier age is a progressive ideal, and one that seems to be working as we see a generation emerging that is more open, accepting, insightful and confident.
But, it’s important to remember they need a solid foundation from which to launch into the unknown, and a safe space to return to when their questions get too heavy, even for their peers.
No one is 100 per cent “mentally healthy” and it can be easy to overlook the potential psychological hazards confronting our children, who we desperately wish to see as happy and carefree. Making these preventative support systems accessible to everyone can help reduce the risk.