YOUNG VOICES: After-school groups could ease anxiety

2014-03-17T00:00:00Z YOUNG VOICES: After-school groups could ease anxietyBy Gina Twardosz nwitimes.com
March 17, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Depression and anxiety are hugely prevalent throughout schools. It’s beginning to become an epidemic, with ties to breakdowns and even suicide. But how can we stop something so broad?

I propose the first step to solving this epidemic is becoming aware. It seems like society either dismisses claims of depression or demonizes them to where anyone else suffering similarly is too afraid to be open with their anxiety or depression. Teens, therefore, are at a loss on how to handle their anxiety or depression. Additionally, concepts are skewed, and it is often romanticized or demoralized in modern media.

There should be school awareness meetings and some form of peer treatment, i.e. after-school clubs or meetings.

Awareness is important because not many parents or peers recognize signs of distress in teens, and treatment for teens with anxiety and depression is crucial.

If schools were to sponsor after-school programs helping to deal with anxiety and depression, made them fun and welcoming, more students would join and get the help they need. There’s recognizable anonymity that comes with such cases, so schools should help to break down the stigma. Get more kids comfortable and to think, "I’m depressed, and that’s OK. But I still need to get help. And I’m going to get help." Then we could really do some good in the world.

But what would these programs consist of? For one, they would be approachable and comfortable. The school would broadcast about them in many forums to make everyone aware. They would be held at the school weekly, and consist of fun games and educational lessons and self-help programs led by counselors and specialists designed to deal with teen anxiety, depression and problems at home. Teens could come to relax and gain knowledge about their condition, or come to help others with their conditions.

Mostly, depression and anxiety is brought on by stress. If these programs could reduce stress and offer reassurance, then it would do teens a great deal of good.

The programs would also come prepared with multitudes of information, from distraction hobbies, to how to relieve stress daily, to information about study groups, peer tutoring, information about the suicide hotline, and links to helpful social media pages.

We need to realize depression and anxiety are huge factors among teens today. There are numerous factors causing the deadly duo, but not many helping cure to it.

Maybe if we band together and help teens today, we can have a future where depression is a thing of the past.

Gina Twardosz, of Valparaiso, is a sophomore at Valparaiso High School. The opinions are the writer's.

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