Today's Youth Totally Mental: Study

High expectations and increasing peer pressure lead to anxiety

By Matt Bartosik
|  Monday, Jan 11, 2010  |  Updated 3:45 PM CDT
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Today's youth don't know how good they have it. Who did we Tweet when we walked uphill through the snow to school? Both ways? With clamshell phones?

But while they may have more advanced technology, young people also have more mental health issues than kids of the past, according to a recent study.

Based on responses to a psychological questionnaire that has been used since 1938, five times as many U.S. high school and college students are experiencing anxiety and other mental health problems as youth of the same age during the Great Depression.

Counselors on many college campuses aren't surprised though. While the study does not provide a definitive reason for the trend, some professionals believe that our society's growing emphasis on wealth and appearance has contributed to youth's anxiety or depression.

Oddly enough, the technology that youth have come to rely on may also be adding to the pressure they feel. We've noticed that many teens and 20-somethings have 500-plus virtual "friends" they have to impress now, on a daily basis.

"It's another piece of the puzzle – that yes, this does seem to be a problem, that there are more young people who report anxiety and depression," says Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor and the study's lead author, reports the AP. "The next question is: What do we do about it?"

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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