Stress is Making our Children Sick
"Is the Drive for Success Making Our Children Sick?" reads the title of a recent article from the New York Times. In a large California High School, 54% of students showed moderate to severe symptoms of depression, and 80% suffered moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety. These statistics are alarming! "We are sitting on a ticking time bomb," said one teacher.
An earlier NY Times piece noted that anxiety and depression are on the rise in students from elementary schools through college. Doctors are increasingly seeing children in early elementary school suffering from migraines and ulcers.
One in three teenagers told the American Psychological Association that school is their biggest stressor. These teenagers also reported that stress is leading to depression. This data is following a similar pattern for adults.
We know that stress has an impact on our brains, which in turn affects our behaviors and the choices we make. In short, stress affects everything we do!
When school children experience stress, teachers absorb that stress. The indirect stress begins to impact their behavior, which impacts the learning of the children they serve. This is a powerful feedback loop that can be destructive and debilitating.
We have to look beyond the symptomatic solutions the article proposes. Solutions such as less homework and tests do not interrupt the impact of stress. Stress isn't about to go away.
We need to develop the resilience to help us manage the stress that is coming at us. We can reclaim our ability to choose how we respond. Many strands of research point to time-tested trauma-informed Dynamic Mindfulness practices as optimal.