Staggering number of adolescents afflicted by anxiety, depression

April 27th, 2017

Many adults don’t realize the number of adolescents across the country struggling with anxiety and depression.

The anonymity of an online confessional page appeals to teens for several reasons, but ultimately it all comes down to the value placed on “social stock” or how a teen believes they are perceived by their peers. Living in a world where perception matters means teens tend to feel “always on.”

To a teenager, publicly owning a struggle with stress, anxiety, or depression reveals vulnerability and the potential that peers will see them as less than adequate. Even being seen meeting with a school psychologist may feel too risky.

Anonymously posting may be the only way a teenager feels they can safely get their issues off their chest. But online peer groups do not have the qualifications and in some cases, peer advice can backfire.

Negativity online can be practically contagious. In its most extreme form, we see this occur as adolescent suicide clusters.

The bottom line is parents need to monitor their teens’ online activity. Often this may be the only place teenagers actually reveal the struggles they face.

Students also need to be reassured that it’s safe to anonymously report suicidal individuals to school officials.

By Jerry Weichman

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