Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.
Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.
According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.
However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.
“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”
Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.
Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.
“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.
Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.
In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.
“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.
That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.
Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.
“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”
It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.
“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:
- Perpetual depressed mood
- Rocky friend relationships
- Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
- Too much or not enough sleep
- Not eating a regular diet
- Intense fear or anxiety
- Drug or alcohol use
- Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans
“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”
If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.
“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”
Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.
“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”
That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.
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There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.
There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.
But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.
A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.
Given today's feeling of malaise, there are a lot of people who miss the 1990s or, as some call it, “the best decade ever.” Why? The 1990s was economically prosperous, crime was on its way down after the violent ’70s and ’80s, and pop culture was soaring with indie films, grunge rock and hip-hop all in their golden eras.
The rest of the world was feeling hopeful as globalization brought prosperity and Communism fell in Europe and Asia.
The mood in America would swiftly change at the turn of the century when the dot-com bubble burst in 2000 and the 2001 9/11 attacks would lead to the never-ending "war on terror."
A Reddit user by the name purplekat20 was clearly feeling some ’90s nostalgia on May 16 when they asked the online forum to share “What ’90s trend would you bring back?” A lot of people noted that it was a lot cheaper to get by in the ’90s, especially considering gas and rent prices. Others missed living in the real world instead of having one foot in reality and the other online.
Here are 17 things people would love to bring back from the 1990s.
"Inflatable furniture and transparent electronics." — Dabbles-In-Irony
"Hope." — DeadOnBalllsaccurate
To which HowardMoo responded: "I hate this despair thing that's all the rage these days. I miss optimism."
"The '90s web was the best web. People actually made their own home pages. Now it's all social media." — IBeTrippin
"Affordable housing." — Amiramaha
"Ninety nine cent per gallon gas." — Maxwyfe
"The 'mean people suck' statement everywhere. People seemed generally a lot happier and kinder back then. It was a nice reminder to be kind." — simplyintentional
"Being detached. Not being attached to an electronic gadget every minute of every day." — SuperArppis
"Calling fake-ass people 'poser.' The state of social media and 'reality' tv demands that this word be taken out of retirement." — rumpusbutnotwild
"Grunge music." — ofsquire
"I want movies to be the same caliber as '90s." — waqasnaseem07
Cremmitquada nailed it on the head with their response, "Everything has been redone. It's all recycled ideas now."
"Pants that didn't have to be super-tight to be in style." — chad-beer-316
"People really expressing themselves. Very few people take any risks with style anymore, or they do something 'different' that's just enough to still conform. In the '80s and '90s there were people doing crazy things with hair and piercing and just didn't give a fuck. I don't think I'll ever see that come back." — FewWill
"Great animated TV. Spongebob started in the 90s (99 but it counts), Hey Arnold, X-Men, Batman, Justice League, Dexter's Lab, Powerpuff Girls, Boomerang cartoons... the list goes on." — Phreedom Phighter
"Fast food restaurant interiors." — Glum-Leg-1886
"Hypercolor shirts and neon puff paint designs on t-shirts. But here in a few months, that'll be changed to abortion and voting rights, probably." — TheDoctorisen
"News that was news instead of rage bait." — nmj95123
"We had a stable country with a vigorous economy. In fact, we drew a budget surplus some of those years." — jeremyxt
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Did this guy study linguistics?
Actor Matthew McConaughey is known for being a bit of a philosopher. He played up the persona a few years back in a series of commercials where he pontificated while behind the wheel of a large Lincoln.
"Taking care of yourself takes care of more than just yourself. That's the sweet spot,” he said in one ad. "Sometimes you gotta go back to actually move forward,” he mused in another.
McConaughey’s philosophizing isn’t limited to TV commercials. He keeps the party going on Twitter where he regularly posts videos of himself discussing everything from journaling to how he’s arrived at his unique perspectives.
On May 16, he made a bold claim in a video that some may not agree with but it actually has a strong footing in science. In a video where he’s sitting on a lawn chair, McConaughey says that the word “unbelievable” should be removed from the dictionary.
believe it\n#soulcashpic.twitter.com/uHwhXlMRjn— Matthew McConaughey (@Matthew McConaughey) 1652720819
“Unbelievable. It’s my least favorite word, I think we should wipe it out of the dictionary. Why? What’s so unbelievable about tragedy, about triumph, about people that raise us up or let us down?” he asked.
“It happens every single day we shouldn’t think that the most beautiful sunset or the greatest play or the greatest love of our life or the greatest moment of euphoria is unbelievable. Believe it! It’s happening right in front of you,” he continued. “In you! We shouldn’t feel like the greatest tragedy of death or earthquakes or national disasters or loss is unbelievable. It’s part of life too! Believe it. We see it happen every day.”
He suggested some words we should use to replace “unbelievable.”
"Unbelievable? I don’t buy it. Awesome, horrible, incredible. I believe those. That’s a good way to explain things. But unbelievable? Nah. It just happened. Believe it,” he said.
McConaughey is asking people to reframe how they see people and events to accept the entire spectrum of reality. Even if that means coming to the realization that people can be incredibly altruistic and also downright evil. Or that when we see a powerful natural phenomenon—whether deadly or beautiful—we accept it all as part of our awe-inspiring universe.
He’s asking us to put aside our judgments and take it all in. Because when we label things "unbelievable" we set them apart from reality when we should be incorporating them into our worldviews.
The funny thing is that McConaughey’s thoughts are in alignment with one of the most powerful ideas in linguistics, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. It posits that the language we use has a strong effect on how we interpret reality and that people who speak different languages see the world differently.
The idea is still up for debate, but linguists believe that “language influences perceptions, thought, and, at least potentially, behavior” (Holmes, 2001). Therefore, McConaughey is right. When we deem the things we see with our own eyes to be “unbelievable” we are divorcing ourselves from reality. Why cast the extremes aside when we can embrace the entirety of our scary, beautiful and mysterious existence with our entire hearts?
Too cute not to share.
Teddy the two-toed sloth has become a proud papa and thanks to a video posted by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, we all get to witness the adorable reunion with his newborn son.
Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.
The video, posted to the Florida zoo’s YouTube page, shows Grizzly slowly climbing toward her mate, who is at first blissfully unaware as he continues munching on leaves. Typical dad.
Teddy quickly kicks into love mode once he sees his precious cub, however. Pretty soon it’s nothing but a sweet nose nuzzle fest. Be still, my sloth-loving heart!
As with most mammals, male sloths don’t typically care for their young. Usually a sloth mama will go it alone, spending up to six months with the little one clinging to her chest as she traverses the trees. Eventually she’ll spend time teaching the cub to climb, forage and even do the “poop dance” (yes, it’s a real thing with sloths). But still, it remains a solo job.
It seems that Grizzly and Teddy are looking to do more of a modern family approach, and the zoo plans to respect their wishes. In a follow-up video, Sarah, one of the zoo’s bird and mammal curators, praised Teddy for “very smartly” knowing when to give Grizzly and baby their “much needed space.” Healthy boundaries at its finest.
It looks like this sloth family of three will continue cuddling away at their sanctuary, and the internet is here for it.
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