**PHOTO CREDIT: AUDRA AVIZIENIS
What is the latest on teens and mental health?
How about the NY Times Expose on Instagram being bad for girls' mental health. Shocker alert!!! Anyone who lives with one of these girl creatures could tell you that more time on the phone equals more time distressed. I have literally spent entire sessions on, "Why did he look at my post/snap/insta but NOT comment/like?" Why oh why indeed. Much as I try to say it doesn't matter (!), who cares (?), or so what (?), they persist.
It seems we need a little perspective. Time has morphed into new times. Everything pre-covid seems dated. My kids take it in stride as they strive forward in their goals and dreams, however muted. Others not so fast. For example one worries, where are my college friends because I missed 18 months. The other says, many more applicants to grad school are suppressing my odds. New worries such as climate change, oil spills, social media bad influencers, democracy in peril and anti-vaxxers are immediate concerns. Mental health access should be part of any infrastructure as our human capital becomes more afraid, more timid, more weary.
What we do in therapy matters. Even if it's a few minutes of checking in. Last week one of my hs senior clients had a fender bender. She was showing off with her friends. Doing so well, she slipped into despair, "spiraling," as she said. While another client, a senior in college, faced being dumped by her long-term boyfriend. These are not easy transitions in any case, but now things seem heightened and fraught with the possibility of being STUCK FOREVER. Finally, for one client I facilitated hospitalization when she said, "Is there a place I can go to just get away..." In a week's time 3 girls' lives were on the line because of big and little anxieties. Big and little behaviors. Knowing the difference is what we therapists get paid for. It may not seem like a lot, but it sure does count.
So we try and try to come up with strategies for the pain and suffering that is life. Having watched the horrific "Boy in the Striped Pajamas" again recently, we can barely imagine real life trauma, so busy are we with micro-aggressions. I do not discount these legitimate triggers but neither do I want to make them my identity. Philosophers long before us have grappled with the same dilemmas. Wonder what people endured through the Spanish Flu of 1918? It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. How did they cope? It's hard to fathom whether a pandemic or a break up is at stake, and I'm not trying to equate or conflate anything. Perhaps it was true grit/resilience or ingenuity and American individualism that got them through; perhaps it's something else. Survival takes many forms. But we must stay with it.
A young adult asked me, "should I try again to date/work/travel etc." OF COURSE YOU SHOULD!! How else do we move on? Staying in bed is no longer an option. That's one thing we know. Also: Don't drop the honors class. Don't skip the interview. SHOW UP. Then perhaps even soar.