Unlike adults, children and adolescents are subjected to many events that they have little control over, which although an adult may not agree could be very stressful for them, and lead to a crisis. In fact these events could seriously impact a young person, more so than a person at a different developmental stage. The many stresses that early adolescents face include puberty, increased responsibilities, planning their future and setting goals, financial hardship, educational disability, illness and many other new and not so exiting experiences – increasing a young person’s vulnerability to experiencing a crisis.
As such, it is critical for psychologists and counsellors working with kids and young adults to have an awareness of their distinct social, cognitive, and biological capacities. So that an intervention plan can be designed with this understanding. In addition to recognising the impulsive nature of young people contributes to their increased vulnerability to experience a crisis.
Think about this, young people have less life experience to draw from than adults, and therefore often have less developed coping responses to a crisis. As a result, they may feel a loss of control and self-efficacy. During such times, kids are likely to look to the adults in their lives who usually provide guidance, support and leadership to assist them in overcoming a particular crisis. And in today’s stressful and demanding times – the closest adults to most kids is their parents, who aren’t always there as much as they should be or arguably would like to be.
However, various challenging psychosocial circumstances may prevent a young person from being able to discuss a crisis situation with a trusted adult, resulting in the young person turning to professional or school counsellors. Unfortunately, young people often present with complex multiple overlapping crises i.e. acute mental health problems in additional to family disharmony or separation, compounding and complicating the nature of the crisis and the method of intervention needed.
Any which way we like to position it – times are tough for kids and young people. Some of our earlier blogs have discussed the broader social factors at play that contribute to the increasingly concerning rates of mental health problems within our kids. Not to mention that the experimental and impulsive nature of young people often lead to crisis situations that can quickly escalate into mental health problems if left un-addressed. Parent separation, failed exams, or bullying are some common experiences that can lead a young person into crisis and corresponding poor mental health.
Fortunately, there are more resources out than ever before that kids and adolescents can tap into when they feel like they are unravelling from a crisis. Child and adolescent psychologists and counsellors, school counsellors, mental health and telephone counselling services are all resources that young people can utilise when times get tougher than they may be able to handle alone – and as parents, these services are equally available to yourselves. Encourage your kids to speak up and not be afraid to ask for help.