Today’s adolescents often reel from issues ranging from college applications to transitioning out of high school, to coping with lewd text messages, a trio of speakers said at a Health and Wellness Professional Network meeting Thursday morning.
“Kids today are dealing with a whole new set of issues,” said Amy Klein, a psychotherapist, one of three people who addressed around 40 people who gathered at the Orange Lawn Tennis Club.
Maureen Tillman, a psychotherapist who founded College With Confidence, a Maplewood- and Morristown-based professional practice that helps
students transition to higher education, and Stuart Bochner, founder of The Admissions Office, in Lebanon, N.J., which helps students with college applications, were the other featured presenters.
Risa Olinsky, 54, executive director of the Health and Wellness Professional Network, said she wanted to present speakers who touched on issues facing young adults because she thought it was a “current topic.”
“We have a situation in the world right now where it’s really a stressful time for teens through twenties,” she said.
Bochner explained how students in high school often struggle explaining who they are on college application essays because they are still in the process of discovery. This often leads them to procrastinate on the applications, which their parents then interpret as not caring.
“Behind it is your love for your child and your wanting them to succeed,” he said. “But you interpret what they do as laziness, and they interpret what you do as nagging, and therein lies the rub.”
Tillman discussed the mental health of many college students and cited statistics showing that more than 70 percent of college students reported feeling hopeless within the past year and nearly half said during that same time that they found it difficult to function.
“This is the mental health of our kids in college,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing and pretty disturbing.”
Klein discussed how much of the harassment and bullying by middle school kids that she has seen in recent years has been done over the Internet or via text messages. She added that some middle schoolers have had to deal with “sexting,” which ranges from flirty messages to lewd photos sent by cell phones.
She said that many middle-school children send between 50 and 200 text messages a day.
“The question is, are they really giving thought to what they’re saying, are they communicating?” she said.
Although there were no students in the audience, there were plenty of parents.
Elaine Cody, 57, a life coach for Clarity Coaching, said she thought the speakers were “excellent and very timely.”
“I’m of the age where these kids sending these text messages will soon be caring for me,” said Cody, who has two sons now in their 20s.
The Health and Wellness Professional Network is a collection of teachers, counselors, educators, therapists and others. The group began in Maplewood in 2004 and now boasts more than 200 members as well as chapters in New York City and Scotch Plains. The groups meet regularly. You can find them on the Web at www.hwpn.org.