back to school anxiety

Not back in my day; why mental health is on the rise

“Why are so many kids depressed and anxious these days? It didn’t used to be like that.”

The landscape of mental health is changing, and it can be easy to look for one thing to scapegoat all our concerns onto. The truth is, there are numerous reasons as to why mental health has changed so much.  While impossible to know all the reasons why, there are a few factors that are important contributors worth noting.

1. A rise in awareness

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, (DSM) for short, was first published in 1952. This is the tool that is used for mental health professionals to properly diagnose and treat mental health concerns. This tool, often referred to as the bible of mental health, has only been in use since 1952 when the first edition was published.

To think that the bible of mental health is only 72 years-old (but doesn’t look a day over 25) shows how young the science of psychology is. Since the DSM directly affects language we have around mental health, it’s only natural for this to increase the prevalence of how diagnoses are determined creating a natural rise in proper diagnosis of symptoms.

And this isn’t a bad thing. It means that we now have names, data, and a deeper understanding around certain symptoms and traits. Which allows us to better address mental health issues, because when we know better we do better.

My mental health? It was actually a gift from my mother.

It is inevitable that your child will receive characteristics, beliefs, and yes even symptoms of your own mental health.

Research reveals a fascinating connection between parental emotional trauma and its impact on children. Delving into the world of epigenetic studies conducted with mice uncover a link between parental experiences, especially emotional stress, and the biological legacy passed down to the next generation. Imagine how our own emotional well-being could shape not just our lives but those of our children. This sheds light on the vital role that parents play in the mental health landscape, emphasizing the importance of understanding the intricate interplay between our experiences, genetics, and the well-being of future generations.

As parents, we often don’t consider that getting our child the help they need can mean that we have to work on ourselves.

Healing our inner child is equally important when helping our child heal.

Parents’ emotional trauma may change their children’s biology. Studies in mice show how | Science | AAAS

Epigenetic Approach to PTSD: In the Aspects of Rat Models – PMC

2. Today’s world is HARD

In today’s digital age, the pervasive influence of technology and social media brings unprecedented challenges for children’s mental health. Constant exposure to curated online lives, unrealistic beauty standards, and the pressure to fit into societal norms can take a toll on their well-being. The incessant connectivity and comparison fostered by social media platforms contribute to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and even cyberbullying. Moreover, the digital realm often blurs the boundaries between leisure and academic responsibilities, adding an extra layer of stress. As societal standards evolve in the age of instant information, kids find themselves navigating a complex landscape that demands conformity, often overshadowing their individual growth and mental health. It’s crucial for parents to actively engage with their children, fostering a healthy relationship with their technology and social media diet and providing support to navigate the challenges posed by the digital era.

Creating a safe space for children to navigate the complexities around social media is paramount in nurturing their mental health. Parents play a crucial role in fostering open lines of communication, ensuring that kids feel comfortable asking questions and exploring their curiosities without fear of judgment or being punished.

Social media creates an illusion of perfection that creates an unreasonable comparison. Talking about what your child sees in their media diet and allowing for them to ask questions can offer a realistic lens to the glamor filter of how social media influencers display their lives.

Establishing trust is fundamental; kids should view their parents as allies in the journey through technology and societal expectations rather than enforcers of rules. By maintaining an atmosphere of understanding, parents can encourage their kids to share their experiences, express concerns, and seek guidance when needed. This not only strengthens the parent-child bond but also equips children with the confidence to make informed decisions in the face of technological and societal pressures.

Mental health is an ever evolving subject that has multiple complexities that lead us to where our society is. Knowing some of the context of how we got here can bring understanding to the struggles that our children go through. When we see our kids are struggling it can be overwhelming to know where to start, reach out today if you need help.