Not just unhappy teenagers
It’s about their mental health
A child is born and they are a clean slate. No negativity. No sadness. No judgment. The world offers so many options and nothing is set in stone. So at what stage is there a mindset shift, turning happy young children into unhappy teenagers?
Let’s go over a few facts about our youth. Every year Mission Australia does a survey of youths aged between 15yrs – 19yrs old – usually around 30,000. Some of the interesting facts from this survey:
- Mental Health ranks as the number 1 most important issue for teens in 2017, with over 33% rating it the top issue. This is up from only just under 15% in 2015.
2. Personal concerns for teens show where their mindset is at. Over 45% have rated coping with stress as their number one concern.
The journey of a child….
A toddler sits at the table and happily enjoys a bowl of warmed weetbix. He doesn’t notice the food he drops on the floor as he is distracted by the cartoons flicking on the television. He has never had a negative thought about anyone or any situation except the one time his mother refused him a second icy pole on a hot day. He is a happy child and believes the world owes him nothing except love.
A little girls wakes for school, excited at the prospect of her day. She dresses in her uniform, brushes her hair and has a positive outlook on her future. She believes in equality and doesn’t understand the concept of not being equal with her male school friends. She believes she looks just like her friends even though they all have different skin colour, hair colour and a beautiful mixture of shapes and sizes. She has a happy mindset and nothing has contaminated her pure thoughts.
A young boy rides his bike up the hill, lifting himself off the seat to keep up the speed that makes him feel powerful. His favourite part of the day is hanging out with his friends after school and racing them on his bike. He hates wearing his helmet as he thinks it slows him down but hates getting in trouble from mum more if she catches him without it on. Life is pretty simple for him and his positive mindset makes him a stronger and happier boy.
A healthy teenage girl runs to the bus stop, her heavy school bag slowing her down. As she steps onto the bus, she is aware of the eyes that glance over her body, judging everything about her. She wonders if anyone will notice the make up she has put on to cover up a blemish on her forehead. She sits down and quickly gets her phone out, pretending she is important and madly types away to appear busy. Her eyes stay focused on her phone but her mind has wondered to how pissed off she is with her lack of self-control in trying to be skinny. Her mindset matters and it takes over her life.
A popular teenage boy walks into his classroom with his perfectly groomed hair and a group of followers behind him. He wonders when his friends will work out he is not really that cool and has no idea how to behave in front of girls. His confidence is all an act and he is often proud of his acting skills. His stomach is often empty but he doesn’t know any other way to stay in shape. He believes this is simply an expectation. He feels the constant pressure and his negative mindset is the only way he knows how to function.
When do many children move from a world of happiness and self-belief to a world infested with unhappy teenagers? How does society assist in turning around the mindset of teenagers? Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents. Working on strong mental healthy starts with children, developing the skills and sharing tools to understand how to cope with everyday life. Mental Health is about the wellness of the mind, no the illness.
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” Mental Health is the ability to know and work to your own potential while coping with the day to day stresses in life. To work productively and produce quality work (and this applies to school) and to have the skills to contribute to society.
The old-fashioned idea of “If I’m OK (another word I am not suffering from a mental illness), then I do not need to work on my mental health – is a load of rubbish. EVERYONE should be constantly working on:
- ways to reach their potential
- learning strategies to deal with stresses and anxiety
- sourcing tools to help work productively & fruitfully
- believing contribution is vital to emotional health
The future is in our young people. Teaching them the importance of their mental health and emotional health are just as essential to a balanced life as looking after their physical health.
How do you work on keeping a strong mental health?