Teenagers are thinking about their mental health a lot more than you thought

Teenagers today have their sights set on a four-year college and fulfilling career.

That could be part of why they’re so stressed by academics and feel depression and anxiety are a major problem among young people in their communities.

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A recent survey by Pew Research Center, conducted between September and November 2018, paints a portrait of the 13-17-year-olds who are the workers of tomorrow. The data clearly suggests that they’re looking for jobs they’ll enjoy and want to help people. It also shows that mental health is a serious concern among them, and a lot of the pressure they feel comes from school.

Sixty-three percent of teens reported that having a job or career they enjoyed was “extremely important” to them — and an additional 32% felt it was “very important”— once they reached adulthood. Other, more traditional life goals were less of a priority among today’s youth; only 47% said getting married was extremely or very important to them, and 39% said the same about having children.

Meanwhile, 81% said it was extremely or very important to them to help those in need as adults, compared to just 51% who felt the same way about having a lot of money. If these numbers are any indication, it appears that the United States will have more do-gooders than Scrouges among the next generation of adults.

Credit: Pew Research Center

Teens also seem aware of the value of education. 59% of respondents — 51% of boys and 68% of girls — said they planned to attend a four-year college, according to the survey.

This life choice appears to be one of the main stressors on young people. 61% of teens feel a lot of pressure to get good grades, and among those who expect to go to a four-year college, 65% are concerned about affording it.

Credit: Pew Research Center

These troubles may be part of why 70% of teens say anxiety and depression are a major problem among their peers. Mental health outranked bullying, drug addiction, alcohol consumption, poverty and other factors to be teens’ top-rated community-based concern, according to the Pew survey.

While it’s good to know that today’s teens want to love their jobs and help others, it should be alarming that so many young people are worried about the mental health of their communities. Perhaps it’s time to rethink our pipeline system to promote health and wellness, so the workers of tomorrow don’t have to suffer today.

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