Children and teenagers are facing unprecedented pressures and challenges growing up in our modern world. The resulting stress can manifest in a multitude of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, social isolation, eating disorders and self-harm. Rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70% in the past twenty-five years and current WHO predictions indicate that by 2030 depression will be the leading cause of the disease burden globally. Marjorie Wallace, CEO of the mental health charity SANE, describes it as a “slow-growing epidemic”.
Underlying these issues is an existential vacuum that no antidepressant can cure: our youth are suffering because they feel powerless. As they begin to develop a sense of who they are, children and teenagers can feel they are victims of circumstances, whether they be social, educational or the family challenges they face every day. This feeling of victimisation causes negative thought patterns and false beliefs which lead to negative and destructive behaviour.
It is easier to build strong children, than to repair broken men. - Frederick Douglass
What’s missing is an understanding of the Mind. If they can learn about the capacities of their own minds: their power of thought and imagination, the purpose of emotions and an understanding of how their beliefs shape their lives, they will learn of their own power and potential, thereby gaining back a sense of control over their lives.
Empowering children with this information will have a huge impact on their behaviour and thought processes for life and will enable them to navigate life more effectively with more peace of mind. Understanding their creative abilities develops confidence and self-esteem, which are the keys to happiness and success. This knowledge will empower students to begin to design their own future and achieve their aspirations.
Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it's the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardising in the way we educate our children and ourselves. - Sir Ken Robinson