Helping children and young people to appraise risk in difficult times
Anxiety and depression have been on the rise in recent years and it is important to support children and young people to cope with the substantial challenges that have arisen from the current pandemic and climate change.
Traditionally, articles about risk and young people have focused on understanding why they might be prone to risky behaviour and how to make them more risk aware, more cautious. Those issues are still pertinent. But today, we have a new problem: how to help the young manage anxiety about risks that are all too obvious to us all, through the pandemic and the increasingly apocalyptic announcements of catastrophic climate change and mass extinctions.
Rates of anxiety and depression have doubled in the past 2 years (Office for National Statistics, 2021), affecting all age groups but particularly teenagers. This is scarcely surprising: the pandemic and climate change present profound existential challenges to us all. Though individuals differ in susceptibility (Ellis et al, 2017), teenagers are somewhat prone to existential anxiety even at the best of times (Berman et al, 2006). Recent research suggests that the current woe in young people often amounts to despair (John, 2020).
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