Mental health issues: anxiety, depression

Mental Health Disorders – part II

Parents: overprotective and inattentive

There is a barrier imposed by parents. Few people dare to face, treat and share the problem that their children have. This arises from two totally opposite behaviors that parents can have: those who overprotect their children and are on top of them like helicopters, and those who, on the contrary, being so busy with their own activities and problems, leave aside from their children. In both cases, neither really notices the symptoms that their children might present due to their behavior with them.

The concept of “helicopter parents” was born after a study carried out in the United States on the behavior of overprotective parents and how it influences the development of their children. It ran for eight years, and during the tests the boys’ reactions ranged from frustrated, defiant or listless. The conclusion reached was that children with helicopter parents may be less able to cope with challenges and challenges growing up, especially in the school environment. They are more likely to misbehave in the classroom, have a more difficult time making friends, and struggle in school. This leads to them also having a dependency on their parents, so that when they start to become independent they generate fears, since they do not know how to deal with failure.

On the other hand, there are parents who are so immersed in their activities, jobs and problems that contact with their children is minimal, so they do not take into account the small symptoms that appear, and only notice them when they are very developed. The need of children for the attention of their parents, often leads them to take actions that harm them, and help the disorders to develop even more. The most common are usually eating disorders and self-flagellation, which are themselves subject to the most common mental ailments (depression and anxiety).

Given the neutralization or minimization of these attitudes, educational institutes should be aware of these symptoms, report them to parents, and do something about them. But what happens when the educational role is one of the factors of these disorders, and the teaching conditions only make them worse?

The role of schools

Science and technology advanced, what we study is renewed, but the “how” remains the same. In the first years of high school, teachers give us tips to study, we try them, some work, others don’t. Months go by for us to find out how it is easier for us to study. The most comfortable, studying by heart, overwhelms but we know that with this we pass.

The first trimester is almost always easy, we do not study until we are tired, if we disapprove we have other chances of lifting it, but even so the weeks of exams stress, one test after the other, the “study by heart” method is not enough, tide and it confuses, complaining is useless. The second quarter changes, winter holidays in the middle, some call it a hinge quarter because the effort one has to make in the last one depends on this. We put all the evidence together again, the stress grows. Third trimester, some teachers remember that they have to put more than four units in two months, now we cannot fail, we have to raise the previous ones, practical work to supplant tests, orals for extra notes, and the tests, one after another. We all have irritability, fatigue too.

The frustration generated by the school environment makes performance, not only our own but also collective, is noticed at the national level. Educational performance has dropped dramatically in recent years. In 2012 we were ranked 57th out of the 64 countries participating in the PISA study. This did not improve, but on the contrary, there was not a great improvement in recent years, and the number of dropouts also continues to grow. This does not occur uniformly throughout the country, but, being a federal country, the provinces have broad autonomy in educational matters. There are regional disparities in terms of ease of access to education, quality, budgets, infrastructure or teacher salaries, to name just a few examples.

This generates that school dropouts are increasingly common, this not only causes adolescents to believe they are not very useful, but because they do not have a full high school degree, the jobs they can get given the economic situation of the country, leads to low income. And as if this were a great spider web, every reaction has repercussions on mental health, since, according to a study carried out by the UCA, those people who are below the poverty line present twice as many symptoms of depression and anxiety as the rest of the population, and a lower sense of happiness and lack of projects. And considering how the (unpredictable) trend of the economy of our country is, it is not uncommon for anxiety and depression to be diagnosed in young people every time.