Editorial: Listen and take seriously teens' stress concerns
A comment online to a Daily Herald story on teen stress says all you need to know on what needs to change in the dynamics between youth and adults in the suburbs.
"Gosh, the same stress inducers existed when I was in high school 60 years ago. Somehow, most of us coped. Granted that today's world is more fast paced and technology focused, but why is stress now considered such a big problem?" a reader wondered.
It's a great question. And by and large, a survey released this week of nearly 4,700 suburban seventh- and 10th-graders did not yield surprising results: the top stressors are school, competition and peers.
But 60 years ago or 40 or perhaps even 20 did not see the same pressures applied to students to succeed, go to a top university and figure out their adult life before it had basically begun.
That concern is unique to this generation in a way that many adults don't realize. So, it's important not to ignore teens' concerns about their stress levels.
We must listen, and a survey like this is a good first step.
"What can we do as community leaders to help them cope with some of the stressors that they're experiencing," Naperville police Chief Robert Marshall said is what needs to be answered next. "How can we empower them?"
Again great questions and kudos to those in Naperville working on answering those questions. They can be leaders on this topic and others in the suburbs can learn lessons from how they respond.
According to an article this week by Daily Herald staff writer Marie Wilson, Naperville leaders so far have responded by hosting a resource fair and creating a local crisis text line, by which anyone who texts "reach" to 741741 will be connected with a trained volunteer who can be a guide to resources.
The administrator of the survey, Naperville nonprofit KidsMatter, is also offering a service that allows parents to schedule free meetings with mental health professionals (https://parentsmattertoo.org/ask-an-expert-live/) to get advice.
"As we see our youth continue to struggle with anxiety and depression, drug and alcohol use and suicide, we hope with these results we'll see where we need to focus our resources," IdaLynn Wenhold, KidsMatter executive director, said in a written statement.
Teens reported that less homework, more time, better sleep and more opportunities to have their concerns heard and validated by adults are good places to start.
And while it's unlikely all stress would be relieved -- teens will be teens after all -- seeking solutions in these areas will show that the adults in the community are taking their concerns seriously.