A tsunami of adolescent anxiety and depression

At the recent G20 Schools conference which Carey hosted, leading adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg informed us that at some time during their teenage years, just under a quarter of teenage boys and just under a third of teenage girls will experience a severe form of anxiety or depression. The G20 Schools delegates workshopped the reasons for such a crisis, and came up with these points:

  • Time spent on, and the impact of, social media.
  • Body image issues and perceptions of what makes the perfect body.
  • Lack of sufficient diet, exercise and sleep.
  • A materialist society in which material acquisition is linked by advertisers to need and happiness.
  • The pace of change in life.
  • Examination and ATAR pressures.
  • Less structures than we had in the past, such as church and community groups.
  • Future aspirations and a loss of hope in a world filled with bad news.
  • Parents not spending enough time with their children. (Michael is campaigning for parents to spend eight minutes per day per child – only eight!)
  • The impact of drugs and alcohol on adolescents, as well as their parents.
  • Access to too much information before life has happened.
  • Lack of positive parenting to encourage safety, positive regard, and being listened to and respected.
  • Less extended family – e.g. grandparents.

The data is similar across the world, and the G20 Schools and Carey are not immune from this. This has enormous consequences, including the incredible care which we provide for our students, and the impact of poor mental health on learning, relationships, families and society. We know that the biggest barrier for most students to doing well at school is not their attitude, intelligence or motivation – it is their anxiety levels.

To assist all Carey parents, I am delighted that another leading adolescent psychologist, Andrew Fuller, will present at the Carey Community Forum in the Ian Woolf Auditorium at 7.00pm on Wednesday 30 May. Andrew’s workshop is titled CPR for anxiety and resilience: what everyone needs to know to remain sane in a crazy world.

Andrew will discuss the resilient mindset and how it extends the concept of a growth mindset to make it more applicable for teachers and parents. The resilient mindset enables students to sustain a growth mindset and to approach challenges with greater confidence. It assists both the anxious and avoidant learner to become a resilient learner. 

Philip Grutzner