Transitions are stressful for everyone. Single to married, renter to homeowner, employed to unemployed, working to retired (or any of those in reverse order).
But for young people, because they do not have the long-term perspective of adults, and because the areas in their brains that control impulsive behavior are not mature and integrated, periods of transition can be devastating, and too often result in depression, self-destructive behavior, and suicide.
As the new school year starts, families should understand that demonstrations of anxiety and stress could be warning signs of something very serious. Two school-related transitions are particularly stressful: middle school to high school, and high school to college.
When middle schoolers enter high school they’re immediately out of their comfort zone. Thrust into a world of upperclassmen, football games, lockers, homerooms and accelerated expectations, one in four high school freshmen reported being dangerously stressed in a McGill University study. The most anxious students turned to self-destructive behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, self-abuse like cutting, and worse. Some schools have addressed stress by offering mindfulness and yoga training and even bringing in therapy animals. But most freshmen struggling with the transition report needing more help than is available.
An article in Atlantic asked the question “What’s the balance between preparing students for college and ensuring that they aren’t killing themselves in the process?” Even students in elite high schools, where ideally college preparation is good, report anxiety attacks and debilitating depression.
College entrance exams, advanced placement classes, the highly competitive application process, fear of being away from home, and worries about funding a college degree (compounded by the knowledge of the limitations of one’s financial future without a degree) left 49 percent of students “feeling a great deal of stress every day,” according to Frontiers of Psychology magazine.
If you’re a parent, or especially a grandparent, don’t equate your experiences of decades ago with those of this generation. They are not remotely the same. Avoid telling young people, as your parents might have said to you, “Just get over it … tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.” What you can do is become attuned to changes that might indicate something serious behind the faces students are showing you:
•Changes in behavior, like isolation from friends and family, or losing interest in activities that once brought pleasure;
•Outbursts of anger and anxiety;
•Sleeplessness, or sleeping all the time, and changes in eating habits (refusal to eat or overeating);
•Expressions of worthlessness, hopelessness. “I’ll never be smart enough to pass algebra … My life is going nowhere … Compared to everyone else, I’m a real loser.”
What can you do when you’re concerned about a young person’s mental state?
• Be understanding, and listen well. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How is the move to high school going? Are you making friends? How is it different from last year?”
• If the answers you get are concerning, seek help. The school’s guidance office is a good place to start, but if you are not satisfied with the results, seek counseling elsewhere. A family doctor, pastor, or trusted teacher from middle school may have answers.
• High school freshman report that engaging in extracurricular activities helps to bridge the middle-to-high school gap, especially in making new friends and socializing. Encourage your student to choose an activity that will interest him or her, something in which they have demonstrated an aptitude in middle school.
• The move to college is fraught with other issues: homesickness, the roommate who stays up all night listening to loud music, financial pressure, even greater academic expectations. Keep in touch with students, but don’t be a “helicopter” parent. Make it clear that you’re just a phone call away if there is anything they need to discuss.
• Does an incoming college freshman have pre-existing mental conditions, like depression, ADHD, or anxiety (especially about grades)? Is there a history of self-destructive decisions and behavior? Make certain that the college counseling center knows about it.
Transitions can still be challenging, but being aware of the perils faced by today’s students is more than half the battle of overcoming them.
The Jesse Klump Suicide Awareness & Prevention Program
Ask what you can do for your Kiwanis
The Kiwanis Club of Ocean Pines – Ocean City is fast approaching the end of the program year 2016-2017.
All members played a role in our accomplishments for another successful year.
The new year begins Oct. 1, 2017 and runs through Sept. 30, 2018. The Kiwanis mission is ”Serving the Children of the World.” We are doing that and need to continue helping them in this next year.
I have been sending scholarship checks to the colleges for the 13 young people who we are assisting this year. The total awards will be $13,000. You should read some of the letters of thanks from the kids or their parents. Your club is making a difference with these kids. We make a difference with younger kids as well.
This current year, the club has provided $10,600 to youth activities in our area. This includes six clubs that we sponsor in local elementary, intermediate, and high schools, plus our new Aktion Club for kids at the Worcester County Development Center. We provide support to the 4Steps Therapeutic Program, Cedar Chapel School, Worcester GOLD Infants Pantry, [and] back to school supplies and their Christmas program for kids.
We sponsor a young girls’ basketball team through Ocean City Parks and Recreation. We also contribute to OPA camp scholarships, the Cricket Center, United Way Imagination for Kids, a food drive, a coat drive, a toy drive, Life Crisis, and Ocean City “Play It Safe.”
Perhaps more important than money, the club donated hundreds of volunteer hours to school art fairs, science fairs, and direct assistance to our sponsored school Kiwanis youth service clubs.
Your club has also played a supporting role in your community, contributing $2,050 to community support organizations: the OPVFD, the OPA Concerts in the Park, OP Veterans Memorial, a coat drive, Achilles Maryland for the Disabled, and Diakonia, plus hundreds of volunteer hours towards nursing home bingo, companion dolls for patients, the blood drives, our house address signs, and others.
So, how does all of this get done? Through your volunteer hours and your hard work on our fundraisers. All of this is paid for by your work on pancake breakfasts, the Italian dinner, hot dog sales, the wine tasting event, the Duck Race and weekly donations through collection cans on the tables for Kiwanis Priority One.
Of course, it’s not all hard work; there is the satisfaction of working together to get these results, the weekly meetings, and occasional social events.
So, here comes 2017-2018. The club and your community need you again. Not only you, but your friends and neighbors, to participate as members of your Kiwanis Club of Greater Ocean Pines-Ocean City.
We need our more recent members for their ideas and participation in our mission. We need our older members for what they are able to do, but more importantly their knowledge of our ongoing programs. Join with your Kiwanis team to continue these services for the 2017-2018 program year.
Marcus Page, Treasurer, Kiwanis Club of Greater Ocean Pines – Ocean City
Rights were denied during annual mtg.
I am writing this to inform the other members the way our rights were denied at the annual meeting of the association members.
I came to the meeting to amend the agenda, which under our Book of Resolutions B-03, I had every right to do. I waited until the proper time to request that the agenda be changed. I raised my hand after the presiding officer, Mr. Dave Stevens, asked to adopt the agenda.
I raised my hand and proceeded to the mic. I identified who I was and where I live as required. I then began to ask that the agenda be amended to include a motion. I was told by Mr. Stevens that I was out of order and could not amend the agenda. At this time I disagreed with him, and then the parliamentarian, new OPA attorney Jeremy Tucker, agreed with Mr. Stevens.
According to Board Resolution B-03 regarding the annual meeting, “Points of Order,” “The presiding officer’s decision on a point of order shall be final unless overruled by a majority vote of the voting members present in person.”
A vote should have been ordered by Mr. Stevens, which he did not do and continued to say I was out of order. It was the wrong decision.
It’s left me no option but to go back to my seat. I was told by other members that I could bring up my motion in new business, but as the meeting went on they were rushing to get the election results. When new business came up, Mr. Stevens said “none” so fast I couldn’t get up fast enough to try to make my motion.
What I find interesting is when the Resolution B-03, “Meetings of the Association,” was adopted by the board of directors on Nov. 19, 2008, Mr. Stevens was the president of the board.
I sent a message to the Ocean Pines Forum and here are two responses from current board members:
“While we certainly cannot do anything to change what transpired at the meeting on Saturday, the takeaway is to ensure we do allow motions from the floor at the next and subsequent annual meetings.” -Doug Parks
“Mr. Aronow, I offer you my sincere apology for the way your request to amend the agenda to include your motion was handled by Dave Stevens, the Presiding Officer of the members’ annual meeting.
“The situation was further complicated by the opinion offered by the Association’s legal counsel, who improperly and prematurely commented on the content of your motion.
“I wanted to intervene, but as a sitting boardmember it would have been inappropriate of me to do so. I was hoping that the other homeowners present familiar with the rules came to your rescue.
“I hope a lesson learned for all, homeowners and Board members, [is] that annual meeting is the member’s meeting. And that you, the homeowners, have a final say for everything that takes place on that day, including the agenda.” -Slobodan Trendic
I would like to thank all concerned and mention to those who want to read Resolution B-03 to go to the OPA website and look up Book of Resolutions.
Member, Ocean Pines Association