I have thought about this and had many conversations about this idea before, so it’s good to see that I’m not the only one thinking about it:
To be sure, the widespread despondency is a heartbreaking problem that demands attention. But what if the dominant framing is both missing the point and compounding the issue? What if the teens are not “mentally ill,” but rather having a normal, healthy response to a highly dysfunctional world?
I have been known to ask people I’ve talked to about my own anxiety, and theirs, how anyone could have gone through everything we’ve gone through over the last couple of years and not feel some level of anxiety about it. Millions of people have died from a pandemic that still isn’t over, hundreds of children have been killed in school shootings, climate change effects are being seen all over the world, and there are openly racist and sexist people running for, and winning elections across the country.
If that doesn’t make you feel some kind of anxiety I’m not sure you’re paying attention.
The real question is, how do you “treat” this level of anxiety when feeling anxious is a perfectly normal reaction to what you see in front of you every day? Should we even be treating it versus accepting it and teaching young people coping skills instead?
I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that my own anxiety isn’t going anywhere. I’m learning to live with it, some days better than others, but I don’t see why I should think of my anxiety as an abnormal reaction. It makes perfect sense to me.