Road to hell paved with good intentions
Why is there a sudden mental health crisis on many of our university campuses? Why has the demand for mental health services increased as much as 200 per cent on some campuses? Why has the number of suicides and attempted suicides increased? Are we doing, or not doing something, that is contributing to this serious situation? I believe the answer to that is yes, at least partially.
The ultimate goal of schools and parents is to produce independent thinking adults who are capable of living and learning on their own. Adolescents should become increasingly independent, making more of their own decisions and accepting responsibility for those decisions. Mistakes were part of that learning process because mistakes lead to the development of coping skills.
But today’s schools don’t just get students. They also get “helicopter parents” who vicariously try to relive their lives through their children to make them appear to be the ‘best and brightest.’
Some of those parents do things and make decisions their children should be doing and making for themselves. They are living the Xanadu dream – a mystical, non-existent, make-believe, saccharine world – and are on a collision course with the real world. What they are actually doing is robbing their children of opportunities to develop crucial coping skills so they won’t fall apart emotionally when they have to deal with criticism or life’s other negative experiences.
Schools are also guilty of that. When something tragic occurs a crises team arrives to help students cope, even at the high school level.
On one such occasion, former Glace Bay High principal Angus MacMullin used a different approach. He invited the Rev. Eric Lynk to address the students. Eric decided to use the public address system instead of an assembly.
Initially, it was somewhat surreal. Here was this unfamiliar voice from an invisible person calmly explaining the Christian beliefs about death and resurrection, and how our faith-based beliefs help us to emotionally cope in life’s dark times and achieve closure.
His address was captivating. When he finished there was a sense of calmness throughout the building. As I facetiously wondered if any students thought it was God speaking two thoughts came to mind:
1.Are we actually expecting these young adults to emotionally deal with a negative situation on their own; that’s a first, good call Angus!
2.How many of these young adults just heard that Christian option for the first time?
This “bubble-wrapped” generation is the most over-protected, over-organized generation to walk the planet. They go from activity to activity with their parents running behind them carrying their equipment and/or apparel. I have often wondered if they do anything for themselves and if they could survive in the real world, without their parents.
When they go to university some discover they aren’t the ‘best and brightest’ and they are emotionally shattered because they didn’t develop the coping skills needed to deal with life’s negative experiences.
But were they ever that good or was it an illusion – their own version of learned helplessness spawned by vicarious parenting, a Xanadu mindset and a weak education system? When you combine those three false positives with the challenges of university life, an increasing debt-load, dwindling job opportunities and weak coping skills doesn’t that become the perfect emotional storm for a mental melt-down? Al Moore Glace Bay