Johnson: ‘Angst’ film screening educates parents about youth anxiety (column)
In the recent Time article “Why the kids are not alright: Anxiety, depression and the modern adolescent,” it’s important to know that our Happy Valley isn’t immune to this alarming trend.
According to our biennial, Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, which we will be administering again this fall, mental-health problems and suicide ideation are on the rise. We are not different from other communities around the country. As a matter of fact, the number of suicides is higher here in Eagle County. The question is, what should we do about it?
The first thing to helping someone with anxiety is to be aware, especially as a parent and anyone who works with youth. Pay attention to behavior patterns, and don’t fall into the trap of chalking it up to “she’s hormonal,” “teens will be teens” or “he’s so sensitive.” While these reactions may ring true in some situations, real anxiety in teens is on the rise, and our youth need help with how to manage it. Coupled with the blurry lines between their online world and reality, a youth’s perspective is challenged.
We will be showing a documentary on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Vail Mountain School and on Thursday, Sept. 21, at Eagle Valley High School called “Angst.” The movie depicts actual teens describing what makes them anxious in a variety of different scenarios. Hopefully, anyone who comes to see this latest youth project from Indieflix will tap into their compassionate side, start to develop the necessary empathy and build an understanding of what anxiety feels like and what seemingly trivial actions or events can cause anxiety.
What are the triggers? Test anxiety, grades, relationships, number of “likes” and being “tagged” (or not being “tagged”) on social media, FOMO (fear of missing out), college applications, peer pressure, building a resume — the list is long and complex.
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If you were raised in the 1980s, as I was, it’s a stark contrast to the minor worries teens had back then. Just read Grown and Flown’s piece called “College admissions: Why my mom had it way easier in the ’80s” to understand the anomaly.
The Time article doesn’t disagree: “Adolescents today have a reputation for being more fragile, less resilient and more overwhelmed than their parents were when they were growing up. Sometimes they’re called spoiled or coddled or helicoptered. … It’s a phenomenon that cuts across all demographics — suburban, urban and rural; those who are college bound and those who aren’t.”
Please join us for this bilingual event (“Angst” has Spanish subtitles) at either Vail Mountain School on Sept. 12 or Eagle Valley High School on Sept. 21. The time frame for both events is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Each showing will be followed by a brief Q-and-A period with local mental-health professionals. Eat Chat Parent also offers free babysitting and a free dinner. RSVP is required to firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you there.
Carol Johnson is the facilitator and coordinator of the Eagle River Youth Coalition’s Eat Chat Parent, a free monthly program geared to help parents and tweens and teens make better choices and lead healthy, conflict-free lives. Johnson also facilitates a new class for teens and parents called Families in Action offered in the fall and spring.