The pandemic left a lasting impact on the mental health of individuals across all demographics. Among those most affected are teenagers, who had to navigate the challenges of remote learning, social isolation, and an uncertain future. The escalating rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among young people signal an urgent need for change.
Current trends in teen depression, anxiety, violence, and suicide point to a crisis that demands urgent action. According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults. As schools struggle with limited budgets and resources, more reactive solutions can continue to fail, leaving some students to slip through the cracks.
Many feel it’s time for a drastic new approach to intervening in the teen mental health crisis, one that goes directly to the source: the students themselves. Some believe that raising teen self-awareness and empowerment can offer the key to unlocking this crisis. Organizations like A Gen Z Revolution, founded by speaker Heather Wilde, send inspirational speakers into high schools, giving voice to often quiet teenagers and helping reframe their mindset. While each of the nation’s speaking organizations has a different focus, A Gen Z Revolution focuses on helping teens deal with trauma and cope with everyday challenges, citing statistics on teen depression, gun violence, and school shootings as evidence of the need for first-hand intervention.
A Gen Z Revolution challenges students to unplug from social media, peers, and expectations; show up fully to their own lives; and take ownership of the choices shaping their future. “Students need to become the directors of their story instead of simply watching it unfold,” says Founder Heather Wilde. She and her team believe that until teens regain control of their narratives, problems like depression, anxiety, violence, and suicide will persist.
Bringing awareness to these harsh realities has become easier in the wake of tragedies, but intervention has proven far more difficult. Standard crisis programs can offer a Band-Aid, but often fall short of providing a lasting cure. Young people today face pressures unheard of in previous generations, from social media fame to college admissions, to existential threats of climate change. “To solve the teen mental health crisis, only giving teenagers the skills and motivation to adapt to today’s pressures on their own terms will truly move the needle,” Wilde claims.
Tying into Current Events: A Generation in Distress
There’s no denying it: there are a multitude of challenges facing today’s teenagers. In recent years, the United States has experienced a series of high-profile school shootings and incidents of gun violence, each tragedy shining a spotlight on the mental health of young people. Despite the increased attention, substantive change has been slow to materialize.
Furthermore, since the pandemic had a profound effect on students’ mental health because of remote learning, social isolation, and the loss of milestone events like prom and graduation, countless teens have taken a downturn in mental health. For some, existing mental health issues have worsened, while others have developed new issues as a result of the drastic changes in their lives.
A Gen Z Revolution’s solution centers on engaging with students to foster self-awareness and empowerment, which can help them confront and overcome their struggles. By connecting with students on a personal level, the organization hopes to address the deeper roots of the mental health crisis.
One key aspect of A Gen Z Revolution’s work is encouraging students to unplug from digital devices and be present in the moment. In a world dominated by social media, becoming aware of its impact on mental health, particularly among teenagers, is crucial. By teaching students the value of disconnecting, A Gen Z Revolution promotes the development of real-life connections that can serve as a support network during difficult times. “We can only deal powerfully with life when we are present… and the only way to actually be present is by unplugging. True connection lies on the other side of connectivity.” While the “unplugging” message is often not initially embraced by teens, A Gen Z Revolution has found that once the teens and their parents set down their devices try it, the results have been extremely positive.
A Gen Z Revolution is designed to be a beacon of light for people needing validation, hope, and healing. Founder and CEO Heather Wilde is an educator and published author living on the shores of Lake Superior. She holds degrees in Secondary English, a Masters in Character Education, and a certification in Alternative Education. She is an expert with trauma processing, accountability, and self-awareness. To learn more, visit A Gen Z Revolution website.
SOURCE: A Gen Z Revolution