One in eight young people suffers from an anxiety disorder. Yet eight out of 10 are not being treated for it. Anxiety often correlates with depression, eating disorders, and ADHD. And kids caught in a cycle of anxiety are at higher risk for poor school performance. They also tend to miss meaningful social experiences and abuse substances.
Kids who struggle with anxiety experience fear and shyness. Plus, they consciously avoid places and activities that trigger nervousness.
7. Self-Esteem and Body Image
Almost all teen girls (90 percent) say they’d like to change at least one aspect of their appearance. Weight, of course, tops the list. That’s because more than 9 million teens under 15 are classified as obese. That’s three times the number in 1980.
One of every 10 boys uses “unproven” supplements or steroids to improve their physique. And almost three-quarters of girls believe they’re not good enough or don’t measure up. Areas of concern include looks, school performance, and relationships.
Symptoms to watch for:
- anxiety and depression related to appearance
- obsessing over a single perceived flaw in appearance
- spending excessive time looking in mirrors
- excessive grooming and exercise
- anorexia and bulimia
Of course, many more issues deeply impact teenagers today. But these are the must-know priorities regarding cultural influence. To turn these into youth discussion topics, consider this angle. Ask how a deepening relationship with Jesus impacts these “weeds” growing in kids’ gardens.
From Jesus’ Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, we know His intention for us. He wants us to grow the “wheat” in kids’ lives so healthy growth chokes out the weeds. In any case, Jesus’ focus is on growing wheat, not pulling weeds. And He asks us (in the parable) to leave that to Him. It’s a division of labor and skill, and Jesus wants us to concentrate on creating a rich growth environment for teens.
This article about youth discussion topics originally appeared here.