Last week, author Sarah Wilson addressed the National Press Club attempting to respond to the question “Are Australia’s young people facing an anxiety or resilience epidemic?” Sarah Wilson has written a New York Times number 1 best seller “First we Make the Beast Beautiful’ around the issue of anxiety. This book tries to reframe anxiety and this address that runs for about 30 minutes may be of interest to families.
According to Wilson, young Australians are suffering from both, and she boldly wrapped the status of children’s wellbeing in dramatic new terminology: ‘Without a doubt,’ she told the Press Club audience, “kids are despairing” One in four young Australians now meet the criteria for serious mental health issues, up 20% in seven years.
Wilson challenges us to feel uncomfortable about this issue. Our world encourages over stimulation and less time idling and being creative, we spend less time in nature and less time doing exercise. Many of the factors are cumulative and contribute to anxiety.
Wilson referred to the work of US psychotherapist Lynn Lyons, who has linked the anxiety and resilience issues of adolescents to an avoidance of uncertainty and discomfort. Said Wilson:
So it is not just that kids are lacking resilience to anxiety, they are failing to build the kind of resilience to deal with everyday life, which as we know, is brimful of uncertainty, doubt, discomfort, irritation, flux and delays, which means that when big, legitimate stress strikes, they are in exponential trouble. They are an open wound with no ability to form a scab.
Wilson challenges us to feel uncomfortable about this issue. Less time idling and being creative, in nature and less time doing exercise are adding to the anxiety. Many of the factors are cumulative. She also argues that parents need to reduce screen time and not protect their children from “boredom.”
As we approach the school holidays, get out into nature – spend time building relationships, thinking creatively and trying something new. High levels of resilience in childhood build strong foundations for teenage years.