The New York Times Magazine recently published an article claiming that there’s a mental health crisis among American children. It opened with an alarming account of teenage girls aged 13-16 experiencing “abrupt-onset tic-like movements.” An expert in tic disorders suggested “looking at anxiety and depression,” which can make children more vulnerable to developing conditions like tics and eating disorders.
While the pandemic has become an obvious scapegoat for the mental health issues plaguing today’s teens, the article was quick to cite the U.S. Surgeon General’s assessment that a mental health crisis was mounting before March 2020. One psychiatry and behavioral health expert featured in the article put it well, suggesting that the pandemic hasn’t made people mentally ill but has “unmasked people who have underlying vulnerabilities.”
No matter how you cut it, the bottom line is that many teens are struggling right now and need all the support they can get.
Great Education Begins with Caring
High school is an incredibly stressful time. High-achieving students are under immense pressure to maintain a rigorous course load, keep busy with extracurriculars, undertake a competitive college application process, and plan out their post-graduation future. It’s a lot for anyone to handle!
In continuously pushing themselves to be the best of the best, many students inevitably suffer from stress, even though their conditions may not reach clinical levels.
At Signet, we believe that great education begins with caring and that students’ holistic well-being is just as important as their academic success. We work with students every day to understand them as individuals and help them pursue their goals meaningfully. That includes helping them deal with the stress they’re experiencing and ensuring that their families have the right tools to support them.
Managing and Improving Mental Health
If your student suffers from stress, they can improve their overall mental health by addressing basic but critical elements of self-care, such as:
- incorporating exercise into their daily routine
- keeping a healthy, balanced diet
- getting enough sleep—ideally, 9 hours per night
- leaving space in their schedules for downtime
- fostering strong and positive relationships
- setting clear boundaries around social media
That said, one of the most challenging things for parents to do is accept that their child is having mental health issues beyond the bounds of “normal” school stress. If your student has tried these basic approaches and is still struggling, it may be time to make a bigger change.
Time to Make a Change
Bigger changes might involve:
- taking a less challenging course load
- dropping an extracurricular activity
- setting a daily time limit for homework
- improving study and time management skills
- recalibrating expectations around the college admissions process.
Check out our guides for resources to facilitate many of these solutions.
At this point, it’s helpful to have your teen complete our simple Mental Health Checklist, which you’ll find on page 9 here. If the assessment indicates that there may be an underlying issue, we strongly recommend students consult with their PCP, school counselor, or a mental health professional for an in-depth discussion.
It can be scary to admit that there is a problem and that a child needs help. But if your teen is struggling with mental health issues, it’s important to acknowledge what’s happening and use the resources available to begin the healing process.
You can always count on Signet as one of your resources. Our academic coaching services, which sit at the crossroads of tutoring and psychotherapy, have helped many teens just like yours. We also have a broad partner network and frequently refer students to the right professionals to support them. Contact us today to learn more.