Mental illness has become the new reality: what does this mean for our future?
Mental illness has become the new reality.
According to Robert Leahy, director of American Institute of Cognitive Therapy, the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s. And these numbers are only on the rise.
Today looks nothing like yesterday and for the first time parents are unable to relate to the style and pace of life that their kids are experiencing. Kids are now born into a world of accessible knowledge, no longer dependent on their elders to obtain information. Their attention is being pulled hundreds of directions every minute and they focus more on what they have than who they know.
Students today report that they feel significantly more isolated, misunderstood and unstable, despite their connectivity through social media and smartphones.
"We have become a culture that focuses more on material things and less on relationships," said lead researcher Jean Twenge, author of "Generation Me" and an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University. Twenge said this focus is affecting mental health on a societal level.
What does this mean for our future?
Many like to think of history as progress, but if progress is measured by the mental health of our young people, we have been moving backwards for years. What ways can we reverse this trend and support the upcoming generations?
I don’t have an answer.
I see a desperate need for mentors. I see a desperate need for students to find healthier ways to socialize with others. I see a desperate need for spiritual maturity in students and adults. But I have no silver bullet to solve this crisis.
I don't know where you are on the "scale" of mental health. If you're like me, the day might determine how anxious, calm, overwhelmed, underwhelmed you are feeling. The Bible does have something to offer us.
Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable - if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy - dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9.
I understand that reading this one verse will most likely not dissolve all your problems away, but giving your life to Jesus will. I was skeptical once of that claim, but I have been able to get through some thick grime of life because of my relationship with Jesus.
I don't have an answer to the rise of anxiety, but I believe we should start with Jesus.