June 16, 2019, Canberra Times: Teachers and parents are chewed up and stressed out, so pity our kids https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6217940/teachers-and-parents-are-chewed-up-and-stressed-out-so-pity-our-kids/?cs=14258 On Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced $2.8 million [$1.9M U.S. dollars] in funding for a school-based mental health program, batyr, as part of a drive to tackle the mental health challenges facing young Australians, declaring "that is a key focus of my government". As a teacher, I applaud this move and am positively thrilled that the mental health of my students is coming to the fore. There are few more pressing issues, with as many as one in four people aged 15 to 19 experiencing mental illness, and three-quarters of adult mental illnesses emerging by age 24. Suicide remains the biggest cause of death for young people. In the battle against youth suicide, we need to address the high anxiety of the parents and teachers who influence young people. … But it fails to get to the broader issue. It does not address the societal and structural problems that create the perfect breeding ground for mental illness. We now live within a culture of overwork. A culture where being "busy" and "working hard" and "going above and beyond" is celebrated, and where even our down time feels like it has to be productive and is judged. … Last week, research revealed that teachers experience anxiety and depression at significantly higher rates than the general population; over half of Australian teachers meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder, while one in five are depressed…. Stress is contagious. Research has found that being around people who are stressed and anxious can lead to us feeling a similar stress response. And our young people are being exposed both at school and at home. A 2016 study found that having a teacher who is experiencing burnout is correlated with higher levels of cortisol, our body's stress hormone, in their students….
Children today are noticeably different from previous generations, and the proof is in the news coverage we see every day. This site shows you what’s happening in schools around the world. Children are increasingly disabled and chronically ill, and the education system has to accommodate them. Things we've long associated with autism, like sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, anxiety and lack of social skills, are now problems affecting mainstream students. Blame is predictably placed on bad parenting (otherwise known as trauma from home).
Addressing mental health needs is as important as academics for modern educators. This is an unrecognized disaster. The stories here are about children who can’t learn or behave like children have always been expected to. What childhood has become is a chilling portent for the future of mankind.