How Would you Define Abnormal Behavior?
I was initially interested in educating parents and adults about their effect on their children’s mental health and well being due to my empathy interview with a local mental health counselor. This was an assignment I completed for GOA but the information and insight she gave me sparked a true concern for this challenge in the mental health world. I believe this sudden passion and drive for this topic comes from where I attend high school. My high school, Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, California, is highly competitive and the administration, faculty, staff, and directors pride themselves on sending their students to top tier universities. As a result, the course work, expectation and anxiety on campus is at an all time high. Not only do students have to juggle school work, extracurricular activities, and being a teenager but many of the students receive excess pressure from their parents. Being in the heart of Silicon Valley, many of my friends and peers have parents that went to the Ivy League’s and gone on to be entrepreneurs or CEO’s. These parents seem to have the same expectations for their children and therefore demand their child to succeed in all aspects of life. I began to wonder what kind of effect all of this can have on my peers.
I believe the challenge in my community is that parents are unaware of the excess pressure they are putting on their child and are not able to notice “abnormal behavior”. During my interview with a local mental health counselor, I learned a lot about a therapists perspective on the “Ivy League Pressure” for students in the Bay Area. She has her own private practice now but counseled at both a private and public school in my area. When we asked her what she believed was the most problematic source of anxiety and depression for the kids she worked with without hesitation she replied “definitely, the parents”. This is not to say that encouraging or expecting greatness from your child is a bad thing, but she believes that a lot of households lack balance in expectation. This is something worth seeking a solution for because I believe that a home should be a safe place and that since a lot of parents are unaware of their effect, they believe in that too. At the least, alleviating some of the pressure in the Bay Area on students academic lives would greatly improve levels of anxiety that could lead to severe depression.
Attached are some screenshots from the write up of my interview with the therapist:
- Around 25% of teens have suffer from anxiety, 11.5% of those teens also suffer from depression
- GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) affects 6.8 million Americans or 3.1 % of the population
I have prepared a presentation that I would hopefully be able to either send to or present to the parents and adults in my community. This presentation, at the moment, is very surface level. It is simply meant to make parents aware of their impact and educate them on warning signs that they could be missing in their child. In addition to educating the parents and adults in my community and making them more aware of the warning signs, I want to extend help to those suffering as well. I want to create an after school program that would be an open, safe place for anyone to do their homework, receive help, and complete any work they have for school before they go home. This would help kids who are under a lot of pressure at home feel more at ease and on top of their work. Below I have attached a survey that I created and will send out to the student body at my school in order to really gage the severity of anxiety levels on my campus and the other is to the presentation I would display for the parents
(I would love to broaden my data for my project, so feel free to fill out this survey)
I have already talked to my school administrators about my project and they believe that it is a very important issue and that they are aware of the intensity of this school. They informed me that although they are aware of the issue and parents role, they are not sure they are at liberty to “tell parents how to parent”. This is an understandable response and it is not my intention for my project to do such. How might I lean more towards making the parents aware and less toward telling them what to do? Also, I also want to incorporate a way of educating my peers about how they can conduct useful conversations with their own parents to help alleviate their pressures themselves. I wonder if there is an affective way of doing so.