When it comes to pre-teens and adolescents in India, pretty much the most only time we hear about anything to do with mental health is the much-dreaded “exam-related stress”. Every year, around Board exams and a little before, we wake up to the enormous levels of pressure young people operate under, in an unhealthily competitive environment.
But increasingly, we’re also hearing about relationship-related anxiety…and much more.
We put a series of questions on exactly this — exam- and relationship-related anxiety — to noted child psychiatrist Dr Amit Sen to shed some light on the most common issues when it comes to teens and pre-teens.
No doubt, exam and academic related stress still remains one of the most eroding influences in the lives of most teenagers in our country, especially because it is chronic and relentless.
However, there are various other factors that contribute to teenage anxiety and distress. The central theme of identity and where they belong starts affecting many kids in the fragmented and angst-ridden urban India. Disconnected with parents who are unable to fathom the complexity of this generation, kids often open up to peers/media friends in unhealthy ways that make them vulnerable and easy to exploit. Heart breaks and a deep sense of being let down, leading to anxiety and depression, is increasing alarmingly.
Changing norms and approach to parenting has also contributed to a generation that is demanding with a strong sense of entitlement. Affected by their digital world, they expect to get everything at the press of a button. This leads to quick frustration and emotional outbursts that leave parents shocked and helpless.
Kids today have most of their basic and material needs met, and they begin to question values and the meaning of life quite early. Existential crises with dangerous risk taking behaviours is common.
Anxiety also arises from the deep differences between family values and aspirations that are conventional, and the glamorous opportunities that the digital world promises. The confusion and conflicts leads to a wide variety of emotional and behavioural disturbances.
– Dr Amit Sen
Dr Amit Sen, Senior Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Dr Shelja Sen, Child and Adolescent Psychologist and Family Therapist, set up and run Children First, in Delhi. The team tweets @childrenfirst_i