I learned an alarming statistic today: 31.9% of adolescents have an anxiety disorder. This is higher for females (38%) than males (26%). (National Institute of Mental Health)
I’m not surprised. Lately, I don’t get through a day without a student or a parent mentioning anxiety. The students I work with all struggle in some way that affects school and that almost always comes with some amount of unease.
These additional stats are from the 2018 Children’s Mental Health Report (you can find it along with other resources at the Child Mind Institute website – www.childmind.org).
- As little as 1% of youth with anxiety seek treatment in the year symptoms begin.
- At some point, anxiety affects 30% of children and adolescents, yet 80% never get help.
- Untreated anxiety disorders are linked to depression, school failure and a two-fold increase in risk for substance use disorder.
If your child suffers from anxiety, it will likely not go away without treatment. This may be the most important issue that needs to be addressed for them to make their way toward becoming a happy and successful adult. (Way more important than the SAT or ACT scores that we all find time to address!)
In November, at a counselor event, I will have the opportunity to see the documentary movie “Angst.” I have seen trailers and listened to the director being interviewed and it looks very helpful for both teens and parents to see. Ideally, students will see it with their peers. If you attend the movie with your child, it’s a good idea if they invite a friend or sibling to attend and they sit in a separate area.
The movie raises awareness about the problem and gives you tools to use in the moment. The director said that this is the first step in getting people to seek out treatment. You can try to arrange a screening in your school or community or attend one already happening. There is one coming up soon at Worcester Academy on Nov 5th at 7pm.
It is so important that children / teens with anxiety get treatment, even if your child does not want to talk about it. Get them to a health professional. It may make sense for them to have the appointment without you present and you can follow up later.