Kids today are overwhelmed with anxiety, and one man believes he has some insight into why. John Thornton Jr. writes for Vox that he’s spent the past year gaining insight into the stressors affecting the sixth- to 12th-grade students he ministers to at a mainline Baptist church in North Carolina. He’s noticed some significant trends, which he outlines in the article, excerpted below. We hope you’ll click through to read the full text, and if you recognize anything that a child in your life is experiencing, we hope you’ll seek support. If you’re in the greater Cleveland area, please know that we have experience helping children with a variety of mental health issues, learning disabilities and disorders.
In a recent piece at BuzzFeed, Anne Helen Petersen described the burnout so many millennials experience. As she puts it, burnout is “the millennial condition. It’s our base temperature. It’s our background music. It’s the way things are. It’s our lives.”
While many of us who work with kids don’t want to name the likelihood that the generation behind us will do even worse than us, it’s hard not to see that we communicate it to them regardless. These kids aren’t even being told that the point of all the work and the stress is a better life — they’re being told it’s necessary just to survive. These kids live with what philosopher Pascal Bruckner calls “tension without intention.” They’re constantly stressed, and they’re growing aware that there’s no payoff for it all.
When I talk about these realities, I often have parents or concerned adults ask what we can do about it, and I confess that I don’t have any answers. These kids are the products of their institutions, and structural institutional problems don’t have individual solutions. But as Rebecca Solnit writes, “Before a disease can be treated, it must be diagnosed. And you do not need to know the prescription before you diagnose a disease.” We owe it to the kids in our country to at least diagnose their disease, which is a society that turns children into stressed, anxious, competitive, indebted consumers. We do this to prepare them for their grown-up lives in a society that turns all people into stressed, anxious, competitive, indebted consumers.