Politics, Kids, and Mental Health

It’s an obvious statement to say that the current status of our political scene is heated, to say the least. In my practice, I see young children (ages 4-6) all the way through age 17 (and adults). I have found it very concerning how recently my kids have expressed worries, anxiety, and sadness not on the candidate of choice, but rather on overhearing dismal phrases of the future adults have reported. One of three basic models of anxiety and depression is based on observational learning (others are classical and operant conditioning, along with basic biology). When kids watch adults express their opinion or react a certain way, there can be a very high tendency to model/copy those phrases and behaviors. Think about the Bobo doll example (i.e., a child watches an adult hit a Bobo doll, a child enters the room alone, the child then hits the Bobo doll). If your child is hearing you, other adults, or teachers around them speak about the status of their future, your worries can become theirs, your sadness can become theirs. This process can happen quite automatically, without awareness or mal intent. At some point, kids integrate these worries as their own, and these worries can manifest themselves as clinical anxiety or depression.

As a clinical psychologist it is not my job to remark on the political scene. It is my job, however, to work to actively prevent the occurrence and recurrence of mental illness in children. Regardless of what your political stance is, try and keep in mind that you, as an adult are very influential on a child and they can model their thoughts, opinions, and concerns on yours.

 

 

Author:

I am a clinical psychologist with approximately 15 years of experience assessing and treating anxiety and depressive disorders in young children, adolescents, young adults, adults and geriatric populations. I completed a 6-year predoctoral training award at the National Institute of Mental Health, and postdoctoral training at the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital. From my clinical and research experiences, I have come to see the struggles of many families deciding when to pursue professional help and feeling very lost in the process. I will address several mental health issues that will help educate and empower my readers to make better mental health decisions for themselves. Welcome to my blog! Johanna Kaplan, Ph.D. Disclaimer-This blog is not and cannot be used in replace of formal therapy. This blog is used to inform and educate and is not a form of informal or formal advice.

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