There are a lot of reasons why today’s teens are stressed – some of them haven’t changed over the years, while others are unique to this generation.
The years between 13 and 20 are filled with confusion, as the teenager’s body undergoes rapid growth and change, and hormones start to rampage, bringing with them a whole new range of emotions which the young person is often ill equipped to manage.
As part of teenage development, they begin to:
- develop their own set of values, and conflict can arise if these are different from their parents’!
- form their own identity – deciding who they want to be and what they want to do with their lives.
Stress from External Sources
In addition, teenagers are faced with stress from many sources and levels – from peer pressure to drugs and alcohol.
Interestingly, a number of these factors are unique or more stressful to today’s youth, than to past generations.
In the same way that young people born during World War II were impacted by stressors associated with that era, for example: growing up in a family without a father; or for older teensm knowing that they would go to war; there are also unique stressors to this generation – such as social media and cyber bullying.
To discuss these many individual stressors could easily fill the pages of a book, but here are just three which I commonly come across in my work providing counselling and therapy to adolescents.
The achievements (or lack of them) at school can impact on a young person’s life for many years to come. Will they get into university? Will they get into their chosen career? Will they pass that exam? There is a lot of pressure on our teens to perform academically.
Research has shown that this has a significant impact on the wellbeing of young people. The pressure and stress created by academic demands is related to increased psychosomatic and psychological complaints in young people. It also seems to affect more females than males, as they reportedly take school more seriously and spend more time studying.
LGBTI Teens & Young People
With the growing acceptance of gender diversity, including the overwhelming “Yes” vote, one could easily think that this is not such a stressful issue for teens these days. However, research still shows that teenagers in this minority group are still struggling with stress and how to cope with it, with LGBTI teens exhibiting higher levels of depression, anxiety and distress.
In addition, compared to heterosexual counterparts, they have a higher use of maladaptive coping styles, for example denial and blame, and use less adapting coping styles, for example, reframing and religion.
Overall, these young people experienced a greater amount of stress than heterosexual teens. In a further review of the impact on mental health diagnoses, LGBTI teens were 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than heterosexual individuals. It was proposed that this is a result of stigma, prejudice and discrimination, resulting in fear and hiding one’s sexual orientation, creating a stressful environment for teens.
Again, although separation and divorce is common, it doesn’t make it any less stressful for those involved. In 2015, 47.5% of divorces involved children in Australia. More specifically, 42,303 children were involved in divorces.
These children and young people are undergoing the painful process of divorce and separation when this occurs between their parents, as well as going on to live in non-traditional families.
However the separation is handled, teenagers will undergo a process of grief and loss, as one parent is no longer available in the home. This leads to feelings of depression, anger and even questioning whether that parent can come home, and what it will take for the parent to come home.
If you are worried about your teen, and feel that they are struggling to cope with stress, counselling by a psychologist experienced in working with this age group can be a valuable support to both you and your teen.
Author: Sharyn Jones, B Psych (Hons).
Sharyn Jones is a Brisbane psychologist with 10 years of experience working with adults, adolescents, children and their parents. Using a combination of cognitive behavioural and solution focused therapies, she aims to facilitate positive changes in client’s lives so that they can achieve and obtain their desired goals.
To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Sharyn Jones, try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
- Giota, J. and Gustafsson, J. (2017). Perceived demands of schooling, stress and mental health: Changes from grade 6 to grade 9 as a function of gender and cognitive ability. Stress and Health, 33, 253-266.
- Riley, T.J., Kirsch, A.C., Shapiro, J.B. and Conley, C.S. (2016). Examining stress and coping as a mediator for internalizing symptomatology: A comparison between sexual minority and majoriy first-year college students. Journal of Adolescence, 49 124-133.