On the Journey
news reel: stories of People, places, and learning AT Aspen Country Day School
Despite the sad fact that children in the U.S. are experiencing anxiety and depression in higher numbers and at earlier ages than ever previously, there is still reason for hope. That’s the message that parents heard at a session with Dr. Jason Williams, a psychologist with Children’s Hospital Colorado since 2007.
In an engaging session about mental health for tweens and teens, Williams described the many ways the flagship children’s hospital in Denver, via its Partners for Children’s Mental Health network, is striving to transform increase the capacity, access, and quality of of mental health services for children, youth, and families throughout the region. “How do you reach kids in the communities where they live, and how do you reach them earlier? That’s the challenge,” Williams noted.
Describing the mental health challenges that young people face, Williams listed some of the widely acknowledged factors: the influence of social media in amplifying social anxiety or bullying, an atmosphere of fear around school shooting and random violence, and the intrinsic pressures that come with the natural work of adolescence -- “thinking about the world and how they fit into it.”
Any adult who seeks to help a young person “find her own feet” should begin by “simply listening and being patient,” Williams said. Parents should resist the temptation to rush in with solutions or suggestions. “The natural inclination at this age is for them to push away, but listening to your kids and creating that space for them changes everything.”
While teens and tweens today face many challenges, “there are two good things to remember,” Williams added. “One, Generation Z (birth years from approximately the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s) is more willing than previous generations to seek help and accept help; and two, people are talking about these issues more.”
That willingness to acknowledge and tackle tough issues of adolescence was on clear display in the lively Q&A session that followed Williams’ talk. Watch for more sessions like this as Aspen Country Day continues to support parents in helping children build lives of meaning and purpose.
some resources and recommendations from the session on mental health for tweens and teens
safe2tell.org: a website and mobile app where anyone can make an anonymous report when they are concerned about the safety and well being of others, along with many resources for prevention of suicide and school violence: safe2tell.org
Pediatric Mental Health Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado, offering services and resources throughout the Rocky Mountain region: https://www.childrenscolorado.org/doctors-and-departments/departments/psych/programs/
Stress in America: Generation Z from the American Psychological Association. A pdf report: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2018/stress-gen-z.pdf