This is a guest post from Mariana Ashley who’s a blogger and freelance writer for www.onlinecolleges.net.
She offers advice for choosing the perfect online program for prospective students and parents, welcoming comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heading into the New Year, colleges across the nation are reporting a rise in mental health cases.
Depression leads the pack of campus diagnoses (along with allergies and other common ailments), and suicide is the second most common cause of death for students, followed only by accidents.
Youthful angst is common in any era, but there a few factors that make this generation unique. By understanding their struggles, today’s parents can begin safeguarding the health and happiness of the next generation.
Digital Natives are completely immersed in technology, and the demand of being constantly connected is taking its toll on teenagers and young adults. There is mounting pressure associated with responding to text messages and e-mails, interpreting social media messages and, in the most extreme cases, the stress of being the victim of cyber bullying.
However, some professionals are suggesting that a disconnect created by digital communication has stunted the emotional development of Digital Natives.
Gregory Eells, director of counseling and psychological services at Cornell University explains that technology distracts students from developing important emotional skills that build emotional maturity. Eels has observed that students frequently lack skills such as staying focused and accepting limitations.
Young adults spend so much time communicating with others, they rarely dedicate time to connect to their own thoughts and feelings. With a lack of introspection and self-awareness, it can be easy for students to ignore problems until they are too demanding, and too stressful, to ignore.
Today’s young adults are simply less prepared to face reality and too cope with the stress of challenging situations.
Loss of Faith
In 2010, the American Family Association reported that 75% of Christian students stopped going to church after graduating. In a panel discussion entitled “Church Dropout: Overcoming the Youth Exodus”, guests identified intellectual skepticism as the key factor in the astounding dropout rate.
In the 2008 article, “Why Students Abondon Their Faith”, Derek Melleby presents an interesting viewpoint on students’ intellectual skepticism. Melleby believes that many high school students enter college with undeveloped critical thinking skills and have yet to form their own beliefs and convictions; he further suggested that the church has a responsibility to address the intellectual side of faith.
“Many students lack critical thinking skills, failing to take what knowledge is at their disposal to form their own beliefs and convictions. We must continually create space for students to wrestle with the big questions of life. College should not be the first time that students engage in abstract or deep thinking, but for many students it is. Critical thinking and Christian discernment are spiritual disciplines that need to be developed. Like anything worthwhile in life, the developmental process takes time and is difficult,” he writes.
Anyone who has ever battled a crisis of faith knows how disruptive and destructive feelings of doubt can be, and without a support system or a trusted mentor to turn to for guidance, it can be difficult for students to find answers.
Though it has yet to be officially tied to the rising rates of mental health issues among college students and young adults, it seems reasonable that many students are struggling with conflicting identities and belief systems.
For a generation that received childhood trophies simply for participating, the harsh reality of a competitive job market can be difficult to understand or accept. Perhaps this is why the concept of being “underemployed” has come into play.
Recent graduates who have taken out hefty student loans and failed to secure a well-paying job after college are now facing the economic hardships of a high debt-to-asset ratio.
Financial stress is a significant cause of anxiety, stress and depression for anyone who faces economic hardship; and few Millenials have the emotional resources to cope with the lifelong implications of large amounts of debt.
The Role of Modern Parents
There are four major lessons that parents can learn from the struggles of the current generation.
- Teach children to unplug and/or develop a method of introspection and reflection. Without being able to identify and prepare for challenges, it will be difficult for children to cope in the face of adversity.
- Promote critical thinking in terms of spirituality, religion and overall purpose and identity before the child reaches full independence.
- Financial literacy is a lifelong lesson, but it is important for a child to make small, manageable mistakes before becoming financially independent.
- The path to success is paved with failure. The relationship between success and failure is an essential lesson for young Americans to learn in order to compete with confidence.
Question: What challenges have your family experienced with the teens or 20-somethings in your life?