by Billy Porto
The purpose of my Catalyst Conference project is to create awareness for the growing problem of anxiety in teenagers in the New Haven area. I have a personal connection to this issue for multiple reasons. First being that I am a highschool student who knows the many pressures a teenager can experience in academics, athletics, and socially. These can become overwhelming very easily and I can understand how this could be too much for an individual to handle. In addition, a close friend of mine suffers with anxiety disorder and I had a first hand view of what anxiety can do to a teenager who is feeling immense amounts of pressure. My experiences with my friend left me with a desire to help not only him, but all people with anxiety. However, I did not know how to. I reached out to my school physiatrist, Dr. Thomas Fahy, to find out more about anxiety and how to help. Through my discussion and interview with Dr. Fahy and research conducted using credible, scholarly sources I have been able to learn a lot about how mentally taxing it can be for teens with anxiety to handle the many responsibilities that come with being in high school.
Anxiety is the most common mental-health disorder in the United States. Anxiety affects nearly one-third of both children and adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The amount of pressure that is being put onto teenagers is increasing. From getting into a top college, athletics, and other extracurricular activities to meeting social standards, and understanding sexual changes teenagers are given an overwhelming amount of tasks. This can very intimidating for a teenager who is getting their first taste of true independent responsibility and commonly can result in the teenager suffering with anxiety disorder. However, due to social stigmas and a lack of education on mental disorders, 80 percent of teens with anxiety disorder do not end up receiving treatment that could provide them with major relief. This is a concerningly high percentage and shows that on both a local and national scale, teenagers are not receiving the proper aid in their battles with anxiety disorder.
How We Can Help
We need to raise awareness that anxiety is a real mental disorder that many teenagers suffer from and what the symptoms and warning signs of the disorder are. Sharing posters such as those featured below around high schools and recreational centers in local towns will hopefully encourage teens who have anxiety to seek help.
In addition to raising awareness of symptoms, we need to provide the teenagers with resources that they can use if they want help with their anxiety. This includes seeking out a friend, school faculty/counselor, or psychiatrist to discuss what is causing anxiety. Also there are a number of different foundations that provide useful resources for those suffering from anxiety. Some of them are: Associations for Anxiety Disorders, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Anxiety in Teens.
“Children and Teens.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children.
Aacap. Your Adolescent – Anxiety and Avoidant Disorders, www.aacap.org/aacap/families_and_youth/resource_centers/anxiety_disorder_resource_center/your_adolescent_anxiety_and_avoidant_disorders.aspx.
Teens, Anxiety in, and Anxiety In Teens. “Home.” Anxiety in Teens, 21 Apr. 2019, anxietyinteens.org/.
Talks, TEDx. “Teen Stress from a Teen Perspective | Michaela Horn | TEDxNaperville.” YouTube, YouTube, 13 Dec. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhG-VoRtkKY.