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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Vella

Kids These Days!

There's been a lot of discussion recently about the mental health of young people. I think it's great that we are (finally) having these conversations, since the pandemic has (helpfully perhaps?) brought more attention to these challenges. But it's not just the pandemic: research shows that Gen Z (ages 9-24) experience more anxiety and depression than any generation before them. Yikes!

Articles like this one, about Kids Help Phone being inundated with calls in the early part of the pandemic contribute to the sense of doom that surrounds these discussions. It is a scary time to be alive, yet alone being a kid who is living during these times. However, I personally think the increase in calls also demonstrates how Gen Z is so much more willing and open to reaching out for support with their mental well-being. Gone are the days when you needed to whisper about seeing a therapist. I humbly offer this meme (totally legit data!) as proof of this generational attitude shift:

Adding to the complexity of this issue is the unfortunate reality that most mental health services are over capacity, often running months or years long wait lists. Double yikes!

Life Coaching can be an important way to bridge the gap. Some kids (and adults!) don't need traditional or medical psychological intervention; they simply need someone neutral, non-judgmental, and encouraging to help offer different perspectives, develop healthy coping skills, embrace their unique strengths, and learn to deal with this bonkers world we live in.

Often adults will put off taking up Life Coaching (or therapy) because everything is "fiiiiine" - or at least it feels that way... until it isn't. A great analogy for this is dealing with a chronic injury that gradually worsens over time. Once you finally get to physiotherapy it will have progressed and you'll likely be asked, "Why didn't you come in sooner to deal with this pain?" The response is often something like, "I didn't realize how badly it hurt until one day when I couldn't lift my arm over my head/stand up properly/walk up even a couple stairs." It's the same with mental health, except it can be even harder to notice emotional 'hurts' vs. physical ones: "I didn't realize how bad I felt until I noticed I was crying so often/being so irritable at work and home/constantly thinking and analyzing my life's problems". Being proactive with your mental health is just the same as being proactive with physical health - it's easier to heal, more energy efficient, and you get a lot more out of it in terms of benefits.

Gen Z are very proactive with future planning, for example, a large proportion are already saving for their retirement. Getting ahead of the mental health game before they experience a crisis is another Gen Z 'trend' that I love and think is very needed for people of all generations. Just like preventative medical care, having mental well-being supports in your life to help prevent a catastrophe is a smart approach. Way to learn from old people's mistakes, y'all! (You're Welcome!, Love: Old People)

If you know a Gen Z teenager or young adult who is in that big transition of high school/college/university into 'full blown' adulthood, it's worth thinking about Life Coaching for them. Learning healthy coping mechanisms for their present problems and developing the life skills and resilience needed to weather future storms is incredibly valuable. It's also much easier than reaching a breaking point and trying to get quick support through over capacity traditional channels!

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