The American Psychological Association has reported that teen stress levels have matched, or even exceeded, those of adults, especially during the school year. Since its report in 2013, the stress levels have not gone down. Between excelling through difficult classes, Advanced Placement homework, SAT prep, club leadership, sports, and college apps, teens can’t “just be a kid” anymore.
According to TIME Magazine, 3 million teenagers ages 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in 2015, and about 30% of girls and 20% of boys have an anxiety disorder. These numbers may be low since many students refuse to seek help for anxiety and depression. As the pressure builds, kids are faced with stress that is about to erupt, and many do not know how to deal with all of the pressure. In Lexington, MA, 95% of students reported being overly stressed with schoolwork, and 15% said they have considered suicide.
Parents, teachers, and friends are not unaware of their kids’ mental and emotional state—many schools have initiated wellness programs that include stress-reduction techniques, suicide prevention, and student counseling. Elementary school students are learning breathing exercises to relieve tension. High schools are trying to fight the stressful environment by implementing Mental and Emotional Health Days, reducing homework, and providing classes for students and parents to navigate through hypercompetitive environments.
As teens continue to compete for acceptances to prestigious colleges and scholarships, it is important that they understand mental, emotional, and physical wellness is just as significant, and not to neglect their own health for their future. Parents and teachers have the opportunity to teach kids how to properly manage and work through stressful environments, and how to support one another instead of competing against each other.