Library Hour: Increasing Youth Mental Health Problems: Facing Today's Issues – March 27, 2019



glass throughout the year we collaborate raspberries he wore handle their emotions distracted a lot more our ADHD anxiety recent data has shown that once H to eight years old has madness take we have psychologists at Johnson County along with his own throughout the year Parramatta cheese thank you so thank you all for coming I I do really enjoy coming out and getting a chance to speak I wanted to start by saying that the kids today at the high school were telling me I was cranky and I'm never cranking and so I was trying to figure out where they were coming from and I I figured out that the problem was I've been wondering why my $25 donation Holy Cross wasn't getting kids in and if you've heard that you've heard what's happening lately I've learned that it wasn't quite enough money to buy buy key to my kids or kids from Chelmsford in so what I wanted I really do enjoy the chance to come out I do not want to stand up here for two hours what I do want to talk about though in a sense I was thinking about how I want to do this and I I do love going out to schools and parent groups and I've been doing it for a lot of years and often talk about the the risk survey that we do and that many schools do and a lot of it's I was going to joke and tell you that if I'm gonna give you the end of the presentation now in case you want to go watch the Bruins instead of stay in here or something like that so the last last words I'm gonna say tonight is caught coddled children lack the ability to tolerate life's normal frustration disappointments and I I start there because there's a lot of good things that I love to talk about with kids I I want to give a little history lesson on my life and but I was also gonna say that we're in a little bit of trouble and the trouble is that I'm seeing more and more kids struggling with their resiliency and their ability to manage what we used to see is as regular kind of problems and we'll get into some of that and and I actually think that this whole college scandal reflects really a big problem and it's you will find I'm not here to blame parents teachers because I'm just as guilty I'm trying to balance how to help kids want to succeed and feel good about themselves and yet deal with the challenges that they face so it's it's something that's very dear to me and again Amanda was nice enough so I've been at the high school for 26 years and have been in vinyl Square North Chelmsford for nearly 30 and spent nearly all of my time with teenagers and as I was walking in today but the thing on me the mic and a guy said oh what are they filming I said I'm gonna talk about teens and he said I'm leaving now good luck I'd rather I'd rather stand in a highway and and I always tell people that I truly enjoy every day but the challenges have changed and we we are in a sense facing what I think of as a little more of a crisis only in that kids are perceiving that the challenges they're facing are greater and then what we're seeing is they're not as able they're not as equipped as we'd like them to be so let me start by saying sorry like I said I've been at the high school for 26 years it's been an awesome ride the kids are great to me but some of the shifts we're seeing and part of what I've been bringing into this just taught the last few years so I would say that's you know being known as someone who works with teenagers and enjoys it most of the calls I get from Westford and things were took spared out of high schools and they call and they asked me to see kids and the biggest shift in my life the last seven years has been that I'm getting just as many calls from the 18 to 24 year old crowd who have either made it through college or not and the general consensus is this adult stuff stinks like we hate it and they're really struggling and the part of the problem and something that I'll again we'll talk about is that they want they have an image that they're gonna graduate and make a ton of money right off the bat be able to move out and it's not happening quite as quickly and as as you know firmly as they want it and they just struggling understand then what to do with that and I do want us to talk as a group about maybe why some of these changes have occurred we know that you know there are more and more kids staying home longer because they can't afford to move out in there there are those types of stresses so let me just start some of the some of the the bad news I'll say so we know that and I hate to start with with us you know talking about suicide but the last year the the rates are up 30% in Massachusetts if you look at that trends of the last 15 years the rates are up with Dogma for all populations about 28% and 30% in Massachusetts and 14 say they've gone up even higher and again it speaks to me it speaks to the amount of stress that they feel and the struggles that they're having dealing with the types of things that they perceive as the challenges they face that we sometimes as adults don't always understand so as those numbers increase you you probably are aware if you're here you're either here because a parent or teacher or I'm getting the number of calls I get for example college campuses the rates have practically doubled the kids seeking treatment on campus and part that you should know or we're here we can so I started in Chelmsford in 93 and I had spent the years prior to that working at a psychiatric hospital in Nashua which I thoroughly enjoyed and I always tell kids and didn't enjoy kids being in the hospital I enjoy trying to help them and back then kids stayed in the hospital for 3 to 6 months and then it gradually changed and in 1991 I did one of my first talks I was invited to speak to the Chelmsford teachers and I told them that I was 30 and I told them that they no longer just teaching that their nurses and parents and psychologists and I thought they were gonna throw me off the stage they weren't really happy to hear it and it's changed a lot even more since then but so people assume most people are from Chelmsford here so I started in 1993 in 94 we added dr. Steve at McCarthy and dr. Hsu at Parker now jump ahead and we now have a psychologist in each elementary school we have a psychologist at both middle schools we have three now at the high school and we are not able to service the way I wish we could all the needs that are there part of that is reflected that if people call my private practice I'll tell them that there's a six-month wait and it's not because I'm so great part of it is that I work full-time in the school and I try to only see 15 kids a week but you anybody who's tried to reach somebody new it can be pretty difficult to get an appointment psychiatry is worse so trying to get a met appointment is even harder and so I think those changes have excuse me have led to the schools being more of a place for you know where kids are seeking help but the question becomes why are so many kids struggling today with you know depression and anxiety and some of the things that have led to jumpsuit I'd like to see jumpsuit in the administrative staff as being you know really aware and of the kids needs and looking at the progression of psychologists I think it's I think it's true in many school systems that that the the clinical support is being increased and being increased so I'd like to start by asking why from your perspective you think and because you're just as much of an expert as me to be honest why do you think that things are changing so why Britain in England they are those children the teens describe themselves as the unhappiest in the world so it's not just the United States phenomenon well I'm just curious what why some people see think that these changes are occurring the number of kids you know seeking help for anxiety for depression colleges off the wall you know increasing their college campuses what are some thoughts Amanda social media is clearly a big thing and we'll we'll talk some about that what else what else do people see good so good a good thing is I think people are more aware of it the bad parts were maybe over aware of it and so it's yes and it's not it's not as if anyone so I recognize some parents from the high school and both in the past and currents and kids aren't ashamed to come see me they met now dr. Steve and dr. su at the middle school will say they often walk ten feet behind them and make them be up but not at the high school and so it's not like a stigma that I used to hear about that doesn't seem to exist and so kids will come in and obviously if you spend the day with me you will see still you'll see nineteen females come up in one guy and the guys usually sent by the principal or a Dean so that hasn't changed that much but it's it is still so much more prevalent but else anything go ahead like auntie Asin yeah right so talk about social media talk about kind of awareness pressure of MKS and all of these things I think are very valid the I think part of the struggle then becomes how to address how to address it because teachers also feel stress over in caste testing because they're at times feeling like they have to make sure their kids are doing well and all that so this there is more pressure that way but let me let me bring out a few more a few more things so we carry these these stats which I get a kick out of new research today's 18 year old is two years younger than ten years ago so talking about emotional kind of development so one of the things that I do talk a lot about with the kids and I started talking about it probably twenty years ago but I think it's become worse now kids today do not we always believe growing up that our goal is outdo our parents and kids today do not believe that they can outdo their parents can how can you afford a house in Chelmsford how can you afford a house and you know acting or Boxborough and so that type of thinking I think puts some kids on the defensive from the start they just don't feel that they're ever gonna quite make what they thought they were going to make we kind of mentioned it anybody know what FOMO is you've heard me talk FOMO fear of missing out so social media what Amanda said but always you know being kind of in the loop and so I just think it adds to stress and anxiety and I didn't want tonight to get into biological stuff and all that but if you're not sleeping enough if you're you know you're just not gonna feel well and you're not going to be able to deal with stuff as well and you know I I always tell people I can remember you know my son who ended up at Chelmsford High would tell me I was a most strict parents in Lexington the whole town I was a strictest parent and when he finally got a phone you know the rule the night in the house was phones downstairs when you go to bed and so one day one night I walked in and there he is sleeping with the phone on his face you know and I I just had to explain to him that this is why you will never have a phone in your room again he was sleeping with her right on his head and kids phones go off all night I mean this is how they communicate what you say I see it you know media overload sometimes to just it is always aware and so there's so much talk about it's and in in the many respects it's good but then there is an overload and you can never get away from it other things change we we don't play you know kids don't play as much they used to young kids and I think that that's just that's a shame and we at the high school are dealing a ton with you know cyberbullying and things online so we go back to the social media and varying things like that so I think that you know if I go back to that that statement I made we're coddled children it sounds like I'm being really nasty I've met very few parents whose intent is to harm their kids but if we do jump for a second to the to the college thing this this this this has been going on forever and and I'm just surprised at surfacing but it but it went on in different ways I mean when I was in in college you know you could buy a research paper and you just had to sign something that said you weren't gonna use it it was just to be used for research purposes and that was before you could track it and and I forget the the website where teachers now can basically put in a paper and see you know if patterns of have been developed but so my point of raising that so even back then companies trying to make money and selling these research papers that really were tough to track and then we move to this this crisis of wealthy parents buying their way into schools which to me that there's so many bad things to it obviously but I I feel bad for the kid who didn't get a spot because someone else was able to get in illegally but and I know people don't know me but what's the message to the to the kids your kids if you buy your way into a school and how how is that person ever going to learn to function if that's how they get in and then it starts you know it starts to spread and then yesterday's globe was how the psychologists and psychologists are out trying to make money to their there are many who will spend time being asked to either document that someone has a disability a learning disability so they can get extra time and SATs and if you can make a quick thousand dollars or more as it seemed because like I said my twenty five wasn't quite cutting it if you you know they were now now it's like I don't know if psychologists are criminally gonna be charged but it's really an unethical and immoral thing to do and I would say I get called not frequently because I'd like to tell you though that I'll never I won't ever do it that way but I'll get calls with kids saying I have an anxiety disorder can you write me a letter that I don't have to take a foreign language that you love and it makes me too nervous and I get all anxious and then because I don't because I get nervous about having to take I believe it you low from most of the majors it's for classes they say well that affects my other classes so I need to have it waived a lot of people looking at you know having service dogs and I get the reason for it but I think again there are people asking and my field and this is something I'll just briefly say it's been a kick of my in the last year I mean psychology wants to be known as a science but it's really not it's an art and what I mean by that as a science is you know your knee hurts you get an x-ray how do we determine who needs a service dog how do you determine they're hard they're hard things to determine but there are people who will write that letter pretty quickly and just as there are people who an Amanda can we could all speak about it before marijuana became more legal decriminalized there are several doctors who made a living writing medicinal marijuana prescriptions for people who didn't need them you just pay them money pay 300 bucks and you've got a license and so all of these things I raised because one of the biggest issues for me I had mentioned that it seems to me that kids feel that they aren't going to outdo their parents and you know I I think that stress permeates and what you were saying I think part of what's happened is things are so expensive like college that another another part of this has been I think when when you went to college 30 40 years ago if you change your major if you changed your career it wasn't seen as a huge thing but I think that kids feel that they have to know what they're doing if you're gonna go spend for a relatively inexpensive education at UMass a hundred thousand dollars where is if you go to BC and you're gonna spend starting to close in on 300 thousand dollars if you don't get aid that kids are feeling that pressure I have to know what I'm doing if I'm going spend that if you're gonna spend that money on me or if I'm gonna take out those loans and that pressure I think is part of where some of this this anxiety comes from go ahead well so I have to admit I I might not know your kids if they got straight A's cuz I don't get to see those kids that often no but so the it's an interesting point because I know this when we were talking about a term I hadn't used yet you know the big term was helicopter parents and they what kind of shifting at the snowball snowballing parents and you know the old days of hell what we call helicopter parents and I can remember doing talks where I I'm just one of those I actually don't feel old though I've done this for a long time and I've never been a big fan of you know trophies for everybody who plays and preschool graduations and stuff I've never been a big fan of it but I we do it but that's like now that stuff feels minor now we have parents calling college professors to complain about a grave not the kid parents calling and so we face that in schools and so you face it in high school in a you know middle school per se but in high school they starts being more aware that these grades matter and I think there's a certain pressure we know that the kids feel and I think teachers feel and again I used to one of the talks that I give on self-esteem it I used to I don't do it as often because I always worry I'm gonna come across as harsh and I don't think any kid who knows me would say I'm harsh I just try to be honest but self-esteem isn't straight A's self-esteem is how you respond to not getting straight A's self-esteem isn't making every team it's how you respond to getting cut applying to colleges and getting turned down and that's where that's what good self-esteem really is and so there's some really nice you know the teachers at the high school are great they really are and you know they're the ones I obviously know the best but they struggle to fail a kid because they will feel bad as people they also will possibly get some crap from parents and we live in a world most of you in here I mean I shouldn't say that because there's some younger people too but I can tell you that again when I was a kid when I was at Lexington High School my dad would very clearly say if you think what happens at school is bad wait till you get home if I got in trouble you know and and that's I noticed a shift Tenten and again I'm kind of stereotyping but we noticed the shift 10-15 years ago where it was what are you doing as a teacher for my kid why are they failing and that that idea started being a little more prevalent and so I've talked again one of the nice things for me I've been out at colleges sometimes and talked and talked to college presidents and they talked a ton about that cause colleges get sued because kids get a seat and and so because I can't get into grad school that and so and my dad would joke my dad is 91 and he one day pulled out his college thing and it's his college report card was mostly seized and he said I didn't do great but I was an average student at college every one of you in here will tell me if your kid got a city what are they gonna what are they gonna feel like if they got to see in his class they're gonna think that they really fail that basically possibly because they're the only one possibly but they're gonna feel that you know they really did poorly go ahead is it safe yeah well and you would like to you know again if we go back to what I said about self-esteem if you had if you can take a C and use it as a learning tool you're a lot better off but I do think that we as a society a C is now not considered a good it's a bad grade and teachers will face some backlash kids may face some backlash and so I think that in and of itself led to some of the grade inflation over you know the course of time so that that type of stuff really I think has affected kind of the way that I think kids respond to to tough times and I think that's one of those one of those challenges right there is that I I don't know if you can get back to where a C is really an average grade you did average D is a bad grade and f you fail the class but but in our world today not graduating you know is it it's just crushing for people and so we really work very hard to make sure everybody graduates and it won't happen you know there's always somebody who doesn't but it really is a I think grade inflation is true but I think it's happened for all the wrong reasons and it's part of the pressure like I don't I'll go back to this College thing because it's so stuck with me if I believe these parents intentions were good I really believe they were good they were they were designed to say geez if my son or daughter doesn't get into USC or MIT they will feel bad about themselves so I have millions and millions of dollars so why not help them but I know it's I'll as I said it's just a disaster it's a disaster for those kids they're gonna struggle I have no trouble admitting that part of why I got my job in Chelmsford when I was working at the hospital it was in Nashua and I got to meet some Chelmsford people and connections are very helpful and when Chelmsford approached me about starting a site department you know I was the job was mine I was told that it was kind of embarrassing but because I had to interview people so 30 years later anybody who interviewed I'm I apologize because it was my job and we built from there but that's partly because Chelmsford had this foresight to say hey things are changing so I do I do really respect the idea of this pressure so some of some of what you know I added to these these types of things so we think of the types of stresses and you guys are talking about them and they're all very true so kids kids as we were talking about feel like it's not as easy and that we don't understand this to fix problems or the decisions that they made and so they one of the terms were using was the toxic effect of imperfect decisions and and all we're really talking about is again if I majored in business and I decided to switch to psych didn't feel like that big of a deal thirty years ago but today you've spent all this money on this education for this and then you're like you know what I don't want to do this and I think that kids feel a lot more pressure than to know what they're going to do and I don't know you know if we tend to show of hands of the thirty of us here I admit I was lucky at thirteen I was either gonna play for the Sox or be a psychologist those are my only two choices and Sox didn't want me so so here I am and you know but and that's the truth but I went in to college as a psych major I went to grad school and doing what I wanted to do but I think most kids don't know what they want to do direct even as directly as I wish they not wish they could but maybe we'd like them all to know but they don't know it's 1718 and then if we if we take into account the newer philosophies that specially meant boys males but brains aren't fully developed ill 25 how are you gonna make a decision at 17 18 but yet the pressure is there and I understand this the pressure is there because you as parents are paying all this money and you're not paying for them to go drink though you are a little bit not intentionally you paying for them experience the world and but they don't know you know they switch majors average kids switches majors couple times you know one to two times but that just tells us they don't know what they want to do yet and then grad school becomes a whole nother thing you know another expense go ahead yep yep realize like so as you know it's just such a good point and even it shelves it high this place that I love we you know cooking classes aren't offered anymore Automotive isn't offered small engines isn't offered and I get it I get why but we're sticking with the class is designed to help pass MKS you know reading writing I get it but all of those things aren't there and so I think I think that there is a certain pressure today because and I try not to be guilty of it I mean if you look at statistics kids who drop you know you can look at stats and kids who drop out of high school make this much money and high school graduates make this much and associates make this much and bachelors make this much and master's degree make that much and that's those are facts but there are people who just aren't college bound who make a very good living because they have things that they enjoy doing but we're definitely a college-bound culture today and and part of that I will tell you and I promised I would not do anything political tonight I'm not mentioning Trump Obama or any event however I will say that it's it's an interesting thing with some of the Democratic candidates who want to make College free for everybody and I just think some kids aren't ready to go and if it was free everybody would want to go and that's just it's just a little I just agree not everybody is college bound I do not have the skills that kids at the technical schools at 18 have I don't talk to some kids who can take apart a computer and put it back together right in front I can't do that stuff and they can make a very good living doing that type of stuff so you're absolutely right that that that is it's a it's a change that we think as a as a country have to address that not everybody is is necessarily college bound and nor should they be so we talked a little bit about how I think that one of these issues leading to this increase in anxiety depression that that has been out there and is definitely out there and we definitely see it we talked about how in many respects it's so present in and not just the media but kids are so aware of it so kids you know being on medicine has increased dramatically and kids aren't ashamed to admit it to their friends and you know I went to the doctor and they put my aunt anxiety into depression we are and and I think it works against us a quick-fix society and so when I started doing this medicine was the absolute last resort after you would spend however much time to try and counseling therapy whatever you were gonna do and if it wasn't working at some time we may get to a medicine discussion and I always you know whenever Doc's get mad at me and they accused me of criticizing them but we will you'll walk in to your pediatrician and say you know they'll pick you out and talk to you 15 year older goes and says I haven't been sleeping well I'm feeling anxious and they come up with a prescription for medicine and I think that's a mistake because then they don't or haven't been able to learn kind of how to kind of work through a problem without benefit but psychiatrists will tell me Dan so you're gonna let a kid feel lousy six months or a year before you recommend that they come to me and I'm like I'm gonna recommend I'm gonna try my best to help them feel better without needing medicine because they're still growing their brains are still developing and I'd prefer to keep them off medicine if I can so I think that the part of the the struggle is we live in such a fast-paced quick-response world and so when kids come to see somebody they also want to feel better immediately and I used to say to them listen you just told me you've been feeling lousy for two years shouldn't have two years to help you and that's not what they think and so kids will say to me G stand I've met you four times I'm not feeling better and I'm like geez I've met you four times and I'm feeling a lot worse right now no but they out they that's the world we live very quick gotta feel better right away or I need medicine or I need to do this and and I think it's it's led to a culture where kids aren't as able to work out stuff go ahead well so the question is can you teach a class on coping skills and anybody who's been through any mental health stuff that is the word now coping skills resiliency and we talk about it so much and in and if kids end up unfortunately a hospital whether it's what we call a partial hospital or or their inpatient everything is about coping skills and we all talk about it we talk about how to cope and it's it's a process so we're still learning and some of its maturity but learning how to do it but yes that's we talked about in Chelmsford we've talked about doing a kind of a coping skill or you know more of a meditation like thing for kids before em cast because some kids get so so nervous about them and I get why there's all that pressure but they get so worked up that we talked about doing a five week kind of relaxation thing if starting is even fourth-graders and you know luckily dr. Lang's not here because it didn't happen you know it was it's and it didn't happen before dr. lang to be honest he's only been here three years but it just wasn't gonna fit the how we're gonna review for EM cast and get all that stuff done go ahead for this situation yeah no it's it's a it's a very legitimate point like we talked about it's also out there and that I'm not always sure it's best and it like I said it didn't happen but go ahead discomfort right not very it's so it's a it's such a huge point and again I I don't really have a fall plan a pattern but stress or anxiety has become a bad word and yet we know that all again I hate quoting research so before an SAT kids who are too stressed don't do well but kids with no stress don't do well either moderate levels of stress are when we do our best but right away today when kids feel stressed or anxious they panic and again everybody tends to panic and you're exactly right and so that ability to sit with discomfort we've lost it kind of over the years and that's that's another thing as I talked about some of the you know we we talked about how imperfect decisions you know kids really worry about that they that's the second thing that we just don't tolerate stress and anxiety kids do not tolerate it well and they seek that immediate fix and it's just sometimes it's good to work through it it's good to have some anxiety and then if I go back to psychology as an art versus a science the struggle is when when is it a problem versus when is it not a problem and and it's a judgment call but you're absolutely right that part of our struggle in my opinion is we now do not allow kids to struggle nevermind C's but also to feel stress and it is okay to feel stress what we have to do is figure out how to help manage stress and then know when this stress is over the top versus this is you know a something that it's just normal stress right I do tell kids all the time kind of what you're implying before an SAT you're gonna be nervous of course you are when you go for an interview you're gonna be nervous when you go you know to a college interview a job interview I mean nervous so then they look at me and they're like so what am I gonna do and I said well the more times you go in an interview guess what the better you'll get at it so kids will say I don't really want to go to this interview and I'll say why don't you go just as practice what are you gonna do for the hour you know play video games do whatever go for an hour but because the more you do it the better you'll get at it and so that is definitely true that we don't we don't necessarily allow I think enough kids to struggle but then to be fair to parents who wants to see their kids struggle it hurts you know ya hate seeing your kids struggle you ain't seeing them upset you hate seeing them not getting into college they want or but make the baseball team or whatever it might be and so again I think when I go back to the the college scandal as an extreme example I don't believe they were trying to do anything awful they it was illegal what they were doing but I think they were thinking they were protecting their kids in a really bad way especially with with the kind of talk what we're talking about tonight their their attempt to help is so misguided and again if you if you talk about coddled children not being able to tolerate life's normal frustrations and disappointments not being able to get into UCLA or Harvard or MIT shouldn't be a shock to anybody and I spend time with kids all the time saying you know the good part of applying to good schools is you have to learn to deal with some disappointment because you're not going to get in everywhere and that's okay so our self-esteem getting tied into I got to get in everywhere I've got a I got to get an A in every class or somehow I failed and I just I think that that message somehow we have to adjust and change you know we talked a little bit about FOMO and just fear of missing out and how available everything is and you know I I read more and more about you know families having three days with no electronics no no media stuff and how helpful that is I know kids don't like it but I do know if I gave you any bit of advice I would tell you to have kids not have their cells in their room and you know if you go back I'll say 15 years ago at Chelmsford High if you had your phone out we'd take it away and then five years later it was you can have it but you can't have it out and now it's it's in class it's a calculator it's everything and in fact just about anybody under 30 I would say doesn't have a landline that that's your calendar your phone your alarm everything and so you really you know the our importance of technology has grown so much and in fact you know talk about therapists now using that technology because kids are always on their phone as using kind of like you know kids will come in and show me fights and and I like on the phone because if it's in caps it was a bad thing obviously so but they'll show me their fights and we we now talk through them in terms of trying to help so the other thing we've talked about is just the you know how okay it is to just we know it's okay to be anxious but it's always kids are always aware about anxiety and and all the struggles and part of what we're finding is they just don't think they're ever going to end and they just worried and worried that they're just never all the struggles and again whether it's you know from up from a grand scheme of the country being divided politically to the cost of houses to all these things they just feel like they're never going to be able to quite make it the way they wanted to so I want a shift for a second so part of part of where I think all this stress and and this depression increase comes from is that kids today are they've lost some sight of what really being happy means and if you think of happiness I mean how do we define happiness today and how do kids if you think about kids that you know whether you're a teacher whether you're a parents how do kids define and a happiness or you know success today what how do you think they define it what do you think they find the most important they well we know what I should have asked it differently yes they're gonna focus on their friends kids in high school and stuff but they look at it as well material goods grades those things of what's gonna make me happy cuz it's gonna get me to college and get me a good job and what we're finding is that none of that's true now I choose people having you know money so that you can go on a vacation or whatever certainly helps but money in and of itself isn't gonna make someone happy material goods don't make someone happy and I I just feel like because of the pressures of getting to that best college how expensive it is somehow it's kind of translated into how important money is so what I said to you right in the beginning wonderful kid who is graduating from college and is absolutely in a panic because her first job offer was only forty thousand dollars twenty two-year-old kit bachelor's degree in criminal justice and I'm not you know believe me criminal justice psychology sociology you're not exactly going to be making idols with with that type of degree forty thousand dollars and she is an apple panic that her life truly is practically over and and she's so focused on Dan how can I live on forty thousand can't buy a house I'm like you're not twenty-two yet you have not graduated just graduating in May when you buy a house you usually you may have a partner you've worked for six years you've gone back to school there's a lot of things that can happen but she's so focused right now that she will not and she is absolutely torturing herself and I think of forty thousand at twenty-two is a pretty damn good salary it's a pretty good start and and what we're dudes go today when they're 22 they live at home so I don't think that that's that bad right yeah yeah yes right right so we so yeah jump sir I just went through the English and we had besides the fact that switch to the computer and everybody was doing it on the computer we literally had kids doing it till 2 o'clock and so not in my eyes as a psychology I'm not a teacher not only they miss a day of learning they had 6 hours on this test and the stress of that is very high but your point is well-taken it's it's it's not just that word happiness but it's really what what defines success and what means what does success mean good that gratification immediate though as you said if you if you didn't pass you don't you don't get to graduate but yep yes right so one thing we one thing I often talk about is you know with kids is trying to get them to see that high school is this much of their life but we do know that when you're 16 it's it's this it's this much of your life and so when friends turn on each other or change and things it feels like it's a huge thing in hindsight you're absolutely right absolutely right that we know afterwards I love chumps at high school not every kid does and you know I loved my own high school experience and but so many kids struggle with it and and then they'll say if this is the happiest this is most of the happiest time in my life I'm in deep trouble and you do hear that a lot go ahead cultural stress of like you have to do this well with a family she's great grow up and I'm watching like yes what it's and I if there's a couple examples that I wanted to throw out it's you know I've never been I really enjoy one of the things I loved at the high school is going to games and kids you know we've started a switch where everybody's playing club and AAU and again money driven and then you know the connection with their kids and stuff the kids from their school sometimes it takes a hit and I think that's terrible I and and I try to tell kids my view has been I I was lucky enough because I love baseball I coached Lexx in high school for a while and I coached Daniel Webster College and I truly believe that in today's world with all the retirement of the media if you're a good athlete you're gonna get seen you do not have to play on a club team that cost thousands and thousands of dollars but we're back to that money thing again and if every you know all of my buddies are playing I'm gonna fall behind if I don't do it and that's it's another part of this mentality I think that as I've been going out to different areas in different schools that bring out more because money you know I understand why it's so important but trying to stay caught up with everybody is really an issue I'm from Lexington and they hate when I mention these things a guide encompass was a decade ago got in trouble because going to a state school was seen as a failure in a town like Lexington I'm like you got to be kidding me it's a you know and the state schools are great great education it's so those type of things permeate you know I think kids thinking and so I think you're right and so we see pressure even as early as you know way back when and kids at six and seven already doing club teams or whatever and I'm not I'm not sure it's it's in their best interest to do that so there is that that pressure that everybody feels and then so if we if we shift so this idea of happy as you know money or whatever it means i I think that it it really goes back to how do we help kids feel better about themselves be able to cope and manage because I know for me the biggest thing that I tell kids is that I'll know you're doing okay when you can manage whatever is thrown at you because you should face some challenges in life and you should then should I mean you want to keep them in a minimum but how you resolve those challenges is probably the most important thing that that we can offer to them and so though I agree with you that this this idea of trying to help kids understand that high school is a small part of their life we know that their friends making that sports team making you know leading the play whatever it is that's that's everything and they feel like such failures if they can't do it and and that starts that whole process of am I ever gonna be able to make what I wanted to in my life so I do think that all of these things have have led to increased why we see such numbers of kids struggling with anxiety everything from the word has a negative connotation though kids aren't afraid to use it to the pressure that they feel from em chaos to be successful but when I told you at the beginning the biggest shift I'm seeing even in my private practice is the calls I get them at 18 to the 18 to 24 that that kind of span because they're not sure that they can make it the way that they had anticipated and so what's happening is they're calling its usual the usual shift I mean I mean plenty of freshmen and sophomores who are struggling with anxiety and depression but you start to see a shift junior year because then then what happens in all schools all high schools what starts junior year discussions about college and your future so that racks that starts to elevate that tension level so if you didn't do as well your first two years you're anxious but then it's then it just starts that that process and then they do you know what what would you guess what's the average kid coming out owing today four-year college anybody everybody read it just the average around forty is what yes you take everybody the kid who goes but the average kids owing forty thousand coming out of a it's thirty to forty with the state schools that's feels like a lot you know and the idea of how they're gonna pay for it and loans and all that stuff and kids don't want loans but they want to you know go to B C and B C's expensive now they use expensive these schools literally a seventy thousand dollars and so that that's one of the things that I think that junior year where I start to see it because then kids are coming saying what am I gonna do and then the anxiety gets even worse and they're functioning then takes over instead of finding ways to be successful they're focused on their failures and are they going to be able to make it and it just is a such a negative cycle so we're trying to figure out better better how to change that cycle but I do come back to that happiness word because if we can if we can try to help people kids teenagers and young adults maybe redefine some of what happiness is and what success means that may be one of the sounds so simple and so hard to do because I think we've gotten away from it and I know it doesn't cut it to just be a good person you know they'd have good morals and good ethics but if we can help people begin the process of I think changing what happiness means in terms of learning that money doesn't money by itself doesn't cut it has anybody heard of people who win the lottery I think I don't know what's tonight this what's tonight is a power no mega-mega what's the big one that's out there Powerball there's one mass mass millions is 70 only 75 million so I'm not participating in that one it's 5 500 million or more for me so I am only doing that one but you know money is such a driving force and I just I worried that it's that we've we've kind of lost some of the the ideas of what you know being happy really can mean and I so that's become a big thing for me when I try to talk to kids to try to help them kind of redefine what their goals are obviously I wanted to pass their classes pass em cast get to the you know and I'm not a guidance counselor and we have great guidance counselor at the high school but I tease them I don't want these kids to go to the best school I want to go to the best school for them and so you would mentioned Community College these dis option is a very legitimate one today now what's the only problem with Community College for a lot of the kids that I see would you guess where do they have to live then when I live with mom and dad and they want to go out and go out and live and and I will be honest and I say this very respectfully because it's not my money even kids go into you lo I push to live there if they can afford it it's just a great experience and I know it's not always you know affordable it's not always the best but if I always push that but so I wanted to talk for a little bit about some of what because you guys will help me just as much you're seeing it I'm seeing it the anxieties off the charts what we mentioned coping skills what do you think we can do both is you know in schools me as a psychologist how do you think we begin to re-educate this idea of what depression anxiety is what are some of the things we can do anybody just feel like throwing a few things out going right like hearing things or whatever yeah yep yes yep I always joke I tell kids kids are great to me they they rarely get mad at me and I don't have to grade them and cut them from teams and stuff but two times they'll get mad at me when they feel anxious and I know the solution is not to go home to your bed it's to come to school it's to work with us to try to figure out how because of course your bed is more comfortable of course it is but it's not very functional and so and if they're feeling very down or you know kids cry a lot sometimes and that's not a reason to go home that's a reason to take a five or ten minute break maybe more and get through it and then go back to class or your job or whatever and again I know it's you know kids know when I say those things I'm not taking it for granted that's not as easy as it sounds but we also haven't built this up over the years that you know functioning in a certain way requires them to participate so come back to that coping skills but I think that's a huge piece I kind of aligned it together how to manage those stressors in healthy ways because patterns of behavior can develop I agree I was gonna read it at the end a kid who graduated from Chelmsford High was asking if she could visit and I said all going to do a talk and she said what you're talking about I said oh but I always do 15 you know and she said mentioned this is what this kid just wrote me mentioned when they begin to take accountability for their actions when they forgive themselves as negative self-destructive behaviors and begin to take care of themselves things will change for the better now this was a 22 year old she did say by the way tell them listen to dr. Rosa but she didn't she didn't listen to me either I'll tell you that but it's interesting you know not just what you said when you get to be 40 but as they get older so coping skills are some what else what else do we know can help well what else would you suggest go ahead yeah we come back to not just grades and again it's not to attack teachers it's it's how can you make a see or making the second team not be a failure and and also that it's that it's not just not a failure but if you work with it it can get better you know and that you can learn from it and and so I think that's huge good right yeah and they gotta pass the test – right yes Yeah right right right and I and I do I again I I joke by joke sometimes that I and and my intent is never to criticize parents teachers myself you're always trying to balance you know how do you help a kid feel good and yet how do you teach them what what that means and and failing you know making a sports team but the second chip you know travel team at age seven isn't failing but that's that's a really it's really a true problem and and again I do think that that whole college mess is just an extreme example of that and in we're gonna you know it involves so many so many different layers not only like I said psychologists you know being faking test results – all of that stuff all designed for status and you know I I will you know when I got this job in Chelmsford I did know that part of it I got it because I met a lot of people from shelter to work with some kids but I also know I had to come in and produce or they'll say get rid of me and you know yes right and that in that and that's a really and this is where my respect for teachers and parents so you have a kid who's sick misses some stuff is there a time frame when they can make it up can they make it up at the end what invariably happens happens a ton at the high school is so our grades close Monday the term ends the third term and there are you know and I risk there are teachers who closed the books Monday there are those who will say listen grades aren't due till the eighth I think or Friday and so some teachers will take stuff you know up till a little bit later if it's makeup stuff and then there's some teachers don't do makeup and the number of kids now who are in a panic because their grades are low and they missed up and now they're like you know can I make this up and some teachers like well no you know and then we will actually get emails and notes from parents or that you know johnny was out sick so why can't he be allowed to make it up but what if it was a month ago oh absolutely absolutely right right yes right right yes and it's absolutely true and I I do talk a lot about that because you always see oh that's not fair this kid was allowed to make it up or and and I I just know that everybody has their own thing but I only raised the issue of makeup and stuff because it does vary between teachers and reasons and all that stuff and again I think as parents you probably can be helpful by modeling what I'll call good behavior and I go back to the all those people being charged with the college stuff then really modeled good behavior they showed really bad judgment and and to to spend a million bucks to get someone into USC just sounds so absurd to me and you know one thing I hadn't mentioned we do know that you know you would mention again the Community College and or not everybody being college bound but really it doesn't matter where you go to school a four-year degree is is what has shown us when you look at results 10 years down the road it's the four-year degree that matters more so than where you went short of the kid who probably went to an Ivy but most of us aren't going to Ivy's and so it's not as important whether you make it to Providence versus Salem State what matters is if you're a college bound person to get that for you a degree so we do know that's true and then I so I think for parents if we can model what I'll call that good behavior you know that will be helpful just as we try to break this cycle that it's not about just how much you make that makes you happy and it's not about what just getting to that best school because I really I really want kids when they leave high school to have a great experience the next the next step of life whether it's taking a year off and working or whatever they do so that piece is important what else go ahead right well we always talk about everybody does talk about Michael Jordan not making his you know team blah blah blah yeah high school team initially and I still think Larry Bird was better but I won't get into that I'm a Boston guy so but he you know I I do think and it's one of those things it sounds like I'm being so critical of this generation of kids you know fifteen to twenty five they have lost a little bit of that work ethic in terms of when I work hard good things will happen and if I don't you don't do as well and then I was just the same sometimes you do work extra hard still doesn't work out that way and instead of that feeling like what a waste it's like hey I you know I'm always proud of kids for working hard and I tell kids you know so sometimes kids will come to me and they're saying on to stressed and stuff and I'm like listen I'll put you in kindergarten and you'll do great but what are you gonna learn out of that you know go ahead parents do it history in a very little raid in the parent at first it was no response a two reasons to sign language travel to I see their history Oh right yeah is it happens all the time right right right and and part of what you just said was just so true that I worry about when I when I said in the beginning that we're in trouble and and what I mean by that is the idea of what it means to you know be on time or be early or work extra hard and that that doesn't guarantee rewards but it's more likely you'll get them if you're on time all the time and I think that we we start to move away from that stuff for reasons that you just said we as adults older adults parents hate seeing our kids upset and try to balance when it's okay to be upset with when it's time to help but help isn't right in their paper you know helped might be sitting with them help might be turning off their phone or you know whatever else they're using so they can focus but I do think that parents play a huge role and then I think schools have to make some decisions about kind of how to keep you know kids just well-rounded not just you know focusing on those those main areas and so that not because I want it more enjoyable but because skills lead to other skills and the more well-rounded your education but we've moved away from it because we have to pass em cast to get to college and that's that's really a dilemma what else what else do people think would be helpful from your experience of reducing some of the anxiety parents almost judged himself I've heard some up something like that someone's new updates fall soon they sort of said you know that's like – yeah right right and I I think that it's it's just such an again an important statement if if we can not just model good behavior but that you know it is ok first of all to be average is some things like soccer not everybody has to play varsity I got a call a few years back I haven't gotten it as recently her parents saying that she she was felt that was unfair because you know your son was playing three varsity sports and her son didn't make any and I tried my best to be supportive but explained that that's not a varsity program if you think of what varsity sports are the best players make the team and the goal of it is to throw out the best team you can and so but that message I think about fairness we've talked a little bit about it it's nuts not the way that it is so I think I think it's true that if we can in a sense not use it as a reflection of us now as a non teacher so I say disrespect respectfully of teachers you know obviously if twenty five kids are failing something's not working in your class also and I think it's very important that we as adults teachers coaches are able to and I screwed up I made a mistake I think that's huge if we can do that for kids and parents and teachers and principals make mistakes and I even gets so huge if you can if you can admit to I screwed up and you know so because we do make mistakes and I'm chronically telling kids the only thing I have on kids is forty years it's all I got I'm a human I make mistakes I do stupid things you know I get too wrapped up in the Pats or the Bruins I you know I go crazy with Boston sports and but it's it's so important that we we not only don't judge ourselves by that stuff but I think we have to give a realistic picture of what life is and and what happiness is and what it means really to be successfully the kid I dated in at college her dad was a big psychiatrist out in Florida and and I don't we got into discussion one day as I was down visiting about you know again we're talking a long time ago but his view and I used to I asked his daughter how could he ever be a psychiatrist his view was whatever makes you think life's to be happy you go to work you hate your job and you die and I'm like geez you're helping people I mean that that kind of scares me because I believe and I grew up in a whole different world my dad's view has always been he knows I love what I do and I get to meet kids and his view has always been if you do something you like then everything else falls into place you may not be rich whatever that means but if you if you've got to work everything you like it everything else falls into place and I truly believe that and so that that girl is so unhappy are only making $40,000 a year at 22 I'm like please remember this is your first job it's not your last job you know she's entertaining grad school down the road but I'm like how about being happy like you know if you discover what it is you want to do you might then money wouldn't have to rule you as much and so for that perspective that that idea of happiness again I think for her I tease her that she's so misguided what will make her happy and what's being successful is she's a great student she does well so I do think that we all have to work on modeling good behavior and one of those things being that we all screw up we all make mistakes I think it's very important for kids to know we make mistakes go ahead other say again I was gonna say that their room yeah right yeah it's it's so you know I and even there it's it's funny because you're so right on target and I I try to balance so my time with kids is I want you doing whatever you can to do what's right for you and so if you're not happy in a relationship what changes do you want to make from I can't be either dating this boy anymore or I can't be friends with them or whatever but yet you also have to step back and say so what role do I play in all this and that's that's very crucial and again that idea I know it's changed some and I whenever I do these toxic I mean when I grew up I can you know the number of kids on my street which is like 30 now I think the six kids total and that there's never anybody outside playing and and I know we live in a structured world but the reason I say that is again go to the extreme of parents calling college professors complaining about a grade never mind high school teachers you know parents calling high school teachers but kids parents resolving or trying to resolve their kids issues not talking through them or helping them see their part but actually skipping them and you know you're not gonna be friends with this kid you're not going to do that and I think that that it's really true that it comes back to we've talked about it a bit a lot tonight but being able to tolerate discomfort and my neighbor got you know my best friend's mad at me how am I going to resolve this mom or dad not okay I'll call the parent will resolve it it's what can you do to resolve it and that's a such a great lesson if we can help kids do that and the earlier the better go ahead where are chanted step back she's helping or hurting long long-term is what wasn't in my teaching to get to a point where right and and you mentioned and it's so funny again that word long-term and we live in such a short-term immediate fix thing that we don't necessarily think long-term and I and I still believe and I harp on kids that you know if they didn't do well in high school that's only this this part so you can do better in college you can do better later in life you can you always can get where you want to go unless you give up and so I that message of kids giving up on themselves is what I fight the most because they don't have to give up just because jumps would I didn't work out and their grade stunk and they always wanted to go to BC but the best they're gonna do the best thing to do is Middlesex or not go to college right now and it's it's trying it but that short term versus long term because we we I think on some level we all fall guilt we'd all kind of get trapped by it sometimes we live in such a quick immediate world you know we've got to fix things right away we got a we've got to make everything go away every discomfort right away that the long-term gets lost in that struggle so I think that's really important what else we got a couple minutes before they kick us out anything any questions or thoughts that they want us to throw out huge right right and and so i say this again i know i've used it a lot respectfully I mean this because therein lies one of the biggest dilemmas for me is I'll never want to tell a kid they can't do something but how many pro athletes have come out of jail matured you know meaning you know how many come out of where I'm from Lexington Christian will be playing for the Giants this year and it's just it's incredibly rare there's been a couple in Chelmsford the akoi ng's i mean there's been a few hockey players we couldn't convince ichael to stay for all of high school so he left us after freshman year but but it's just rare it's just rare and but that's I and I agree a hundred percent with what you're saying it's how do you how do you find that balance of not making someone's dreams kind of disappear and yet being fair and realistic to them and and it's so I think I even think that shifted a little bit where we've got until we never want to say to a kid that's probably not what you're gonna do and again yeah not everybody can is cut out to be a nurse because of the science that's involved in it and stuff or people will say then how come you went and got a PhD in psychology versus an MD and I said well like all those science courses there's no way I wanted to do that stuff it's not my strength right how about you right right right but well you use you use the word you use the two realistic I have no trouble kids say Dan can I do what you do and I'm like absolutely but you got to go four years of college and five years of grad school and they're like no way no way am I gonna do that you know okay that's that's how you do it I mean I you know or and and it's I never I would never embarrass a kid you guys who know me know I wouldn't do that but sometimes you know kids are failing out and they're like I'm gonna get my law degree or something I'm like can you just get through high school and then we'll talk about what's next but that realism is so important and that gets back to kind of modeling the types of behavior that you you want to see I think you know like I say calling a teacher and saying hey tell me how I can help my daughter is a lot different then you screwed up you're the reason my kids getting a C that's not going to get anybody anywhere so go ahead right yeah it it's really hard because part of this realism I think and and there's something I'll ask of everybody in this room everybody has got kids in high school I think teachers but I think parents have to do it and I know some parents get angry with me I think probably maybe ninth grades too early certainly by sophomore year you have to start on the discussion with your kids about what you're willing to pay for college so that they get to see what they're gonna owe and I again I know these things are easy for me and I always tell parents I'm in the easy seat I get it I can sit there and say hey pay the ten thousand feet good to live at you low it's worth it it's easy for me to say that stuff make your kid coming no they're crying I know they're not feeling good make them come those are easy things to say but parents who don't have that discussion with their kids and then after they've applied to Stonehill and use and the parent says well you can't go there and it's like wait and the kids come in crying saying that's where I thought I was going well you can go but it's gonna cost $50,000 a year and we're not paying for that I think that discussion has to happen early and I because I think we owe it to them to say and and I have a lot of kids back to that 18 to 24 year old group that have left the college they went to BC because their brother's girlfriend went there and they loved it and they didn't find out so sophomore year that they now all a hundred thousand dollars and they're halfway through their college education and they've transferred to a state school or whatever and I just think that conversation has to happen early because the importance of money has become so big in our society and I get it it's so expensive yeah absolutely yep all it just they made that change two years ago I don't know if everybody heard so you made anybody who goes you may we'll get in who will be treated as if they're a Maine resident meaning the cost so yeah right right and and these programs exist but in and I agree that they're there you know the programs is this where if you go to Middlesex for two years and do well you'll get automatic admittance to you all as a junior and if you don't like the Middlesex name meaning as a kid when you graduate from you Lowell no one knows you went to Middlesex you're a four-year degree from you law which is a great school but I but I it is that's even that's an issue but I meaning trying to convince kids the hard part of that like I said earlier not living at home isn't hard but some kids are just ready to move out and try it and so that's one of those things sure yeah it's it's you know it's I probably end up addressing it so the question was about again hitting that that 18 to 25 or even older when they've just lost hope things haven't gone as they wanted and they've kind of stopped and I I find the hardest thing in my field kids will always ask me about my dad helped me get motivated I'm like geez if I could do that I would have retired a long time ago because motivation is the toughest thing to do but I think when people feel like life has hit them so hard they get all these roadblocks my sense therapeutically is you know you I start looking for little victories and again I know that's so easy to say whether it's getting a job interview when you feel like I was never gonna get one and you do but little victories little things that start changing it from this the negative cycle to maybe something can happen I trying to remember how old it was there's a huge story about I think it was thirty thirty-one and the parents basically said you have to leave and he said no he wouldn't leave and he didn't want to work and it was a whole big thing because and eventually you know hit the newspaper because of the internet and somebody called and offered him a job and just to try to get that process happening but the reason that part of why I bring it up is that those things are happening and what we're trying to figure out ways to to get people to believe that they can start making those changes and getting some successes and things like alcohol and drugs to numb the anxiety the depression whatever it just doesn't it doesn't help any and so I just look the little little victories little things that I can do but the number of times I get that call from someone saying you know basically 24 I didn't think I'd be living at home you know I didn't think I'd be working at zestes you know it's like one step what are you gonna do next to make it better it's it's I know they're easy words but I look the little success and try to build off of them because like I said that's that's the biggest change in my private practice does that call from from that age group so so listen I got a I know I got a wrap-up I truly appreciate everybody coming and I hope that you know it's nice to see people and hopefully I'll see everybody at some point thank you for coming

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *