Self Esteem And Resilience – How To Help Girls Overcome Depression And Save A Generation

One of the effects of the pandemic has been an increase in depression in kids. Recent research suggests even more depression in our girls than our young boys. I’ve been very concerned about both our boys and girls over the pandemic years, as they have had to endure all sorts of losses and confusions as schools closed, schools went virtual, sports were canceled, proms were canceled, graduations in person were cancelled, etc. Even children as young as 1 year old were affected by the pandemic as they lost valuable time in learning to read facial expressions as people in their lives went around wearing masks.

I don’t think any child in our country went without some level of strain during the last 3 years. I’m concerned about all our children, yet as one professional I can not concentrate on all. My specialty as a positive psychologist is girls and women. And now my concern is helping our girls cope with their mental health coming out of the pandemic years.

Boys and girls are somewhat different as they go through the stages of growing up.Boys can be thrilled being on a baseball team, while girls can be thrilled taking competitive ballet classes. I’m going to leave boys to another expert, and talk to you a little more about girls. Most girls are social beings. That said, the flow of normal activity has been interrupted for at least 3 years for most girls. Once you take away normal activities to do and look forward to, life can be quite bleak for many girls.

Now that things are pretty much back to normal in the world at large, it doesn’t mean that every girl has just popped into place again. For many girls 3 years was a long time and friends may have fallen away, school may be hard to adjust to, family life may be less stable than before the pandemic, etc. So that’s why we have to so carefully watch and help our girls so that we don’t miss depressive signs in some of them. Here are things to watch for and suggestions as to help us save our generation of girls:

1. Anxiety: Anxiety and depression are related. Girls who worry excessively, have difficulty sleeping, or struggle with separation anxiety can be at higher risk for depression.
2. Social media: Even at very young ages, girls now spend a lot of time on social media. While it can be fun and very engaging for them, it can also contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. Girls who spend a lot of time on social media may be more likely to compare themselves to others and may experience cyberbullying.
3. Bullying: Bullying can have a terrible impact on a young girl’s mental health, and girls who are bullied may be more a lot more likely to experience depression.
4. Peer pressure: Most girls experience pressure from their peers to fit in, which may lead to them engaging in risky behaviors. This can also be a source of stress and anxiety, which may contribute to feelings of depression.
5. Loneliness: Girls who feel lonely or disconnected from others (such as during the pandemic) may be more likely to experience depression. This can occur if a young girl experiences significant life changes, such as moving to a new school.

We have to remember that every girl is unique and may experience depression for many different reasons. By understanding these risk factors, parents, grandparents and even educators can take steps to support their mental health.

What can we do to help them?

There are many ways that we can help young girls cope with these challenges.

1. Validate their feelings: All girls need to feel heard and understood. When they express their feelings, it is important to acknowledge those feelings and let them know that it’s okay to feel that way.
2. Provide support: Girls who feel safe and loved are better equipped to deal with stress and challenges. Create an environment where children can feel comfortable expressing themselves.
3. Encourage healthy habits: Exercise, good sleep, and healthy eating habits can all contribute to better mental health for girls. Encourage them to engage in physical activity, get enough sleep, and eat right.
4. Teach coping skills: Coping techniques can all of us manage our feelings of anxiety and stress.
5. Seek professional help if needed: If a child’s anxiety or depression is causing problems or interferes with their day to day life, it may be helpful to seek professional support.
6. Address bullying and peer pressure: Parents and others should be aware of any signs of bullying and take action to address the situation. This may include talking to teachers or maybe teaching them assertiveness skills.
By taking these steps, we can help girls build resilience, self-esteem and help them to cope with the challenges of growing up.

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