November 2, 2018 – Anxiety is the leading mental health challenge among American youth, but is one we often don’t talk about. To increase awareness and sensitivity around the pervasiveness of childhood anxiety, and to begin a dialogue among family and educators, Englewood Health joined with Tenafly Public Schools and OCAY: Our Community Allied with Youth to cosponsor a screening of Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety on Oct. 23 at Tenafly Middle School.
According to the National Institute of Health, anxiety disorders affect more than one-quarter of teenagers. Approximately 80 percent of children and teenagers suffering from anxiety do not receive treatment, and 20 percent will struggle with depression before graduating from high school. Englewood Health, Tenafly Public Schools, and OCAY aim to bridge that gap by highlighting the importance of this issue and ways to deal with it, while connecting students who are suffering and clarifying the pathway to help.
Angst, a documentary exploring the stress and anxiety today’s students are facing, was first shared with Tenafly school district faculty and staff on Oct. 22, and then with parents and students of grades six through 12 on the following evening, with more than 300 in attendance. The film centers on interviews with young adults sharing their experiences with anxiety, its impact on their lives and relationships, and what they have learned. It also features mental health experts identifying causes and sociological effects of anxiety, as well as resources for help.
Following the 43-minute screening, David Drapkin, LCSW, clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and manager of behavioral health programs at Englewood Health, led a clinical discussion, along with a question-and-answer session. Response to the film has been overwhelmingly positive, initiating important conversations between staff, students, and parents.
Other speakers included Suzanne Bassett, assistant to the superintendent for special services, and Janet Gould, student assistance counselor; co-advisor to the senior peer leadership program; and anti-bullying specialist at Tenafly High School.
“I can’t say enough good things about tonight,” Bassett said, following the event.
Along with introducing a discussion, the district’s hope was to enhance resources for students’ mental health and wellness to facilitate prevention and relief through healthy habits. In addition to the film, attendees had access to coping tools, resources for help, and screening for students to determine unhealthy anxiety levels.