More Australian teenagers are in severe psychological distress than five years ago despite growing awareness and initiatives aimed at tackling mental illness, a new report by Mission Australia shows.
Teenagers, in particular, are going through a transitional period that exposes them to more potentially stressful situations than they have previously experienced. They need to be equipped to deal with stress and anxiety to reduce the risk of mental health issues. It’s important that teenagers build resilience skills so that they can cope when the going gets tough.
With mental illness on the rise throughout the world and increasing pressures on teenagers, this has never been more important.
The good news is that research has shown that resilience is a normal trait that can be learned through the development of behaviours, thoughts and actions. While being resilient does not spare us from pain or emotion, it does allow us to deal with a particular trauma or adversity.
So, what is resilience? …
According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.
How is this relevant for EACS students?
In November 2016, Esperance Anglican Community School students participated in a survey, conducted by Resilient Youth Australia. The survey was taken by children in Years 7 to 12 throughout Australia. The results of this survey revealed that roughly one-third of Esperance youth have good or excellent levels of resilience; however nearly two-thirds exhibited signs of fair or low resilience.
Specific aspects of their lives where symptoms of low resilience were apparent included low self-belief (especially in girls), poor attitudes towards violence, a lack of feeling of belonging in communities or families, and the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
How can we address this?
Cultivating resilience can occur in a variety of ways:
- Build caring and supportive relationships within the family and in the wider community.
- Support your child by setting clear boundaries and expectations.
- Help your child plan for the future, instilling a sense of hope and aspiration.
- Communicate with your child and provide opportunities for your child to be social.
- Encourage your child to be active – a healthy body creates a healthy mind.
- Reinforce positive values.
- Allow your child to fail occasionally – it’s important that children learn that it’s ok to make mistakes as these often lead to valuable life lessons.
- Equip your child with the skills to fight their own battles and provide them with the independence to do so.
- Guide your child to become a problem solver. Talk through problems rather than providing solutions.
- Teach your child to manage their feelings.
At Esperance Anglican Community School we know that our young people do feel positive and hopeful about the future; they believe that they are healthy with a sense of purpose.
They also feel that they belong in the School community and want to express this by helping others. We certainly want to play our part in the on-going task of building resilience in our students to allow them to lead fulfilling lives by developing the talents with which they have been blessed.
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