Generation Stress, a panel discussion on anxiety in young children took place on Tuesday night. While much of the information was targeted towards parents and caregivers, college students can benefit from the awareness of what causes and how to manage symptoms of anxiety.
The panelists came from a variety of backgrounds, including health exercise and psychology. Emceed by CBS21’s Chris Allen, the panelists shared research they’ve discovered surrounding mental disorders and shed light on how to prevent negative outcomes if a child were to be susceptible.
Pediatrician Kevin Barnes opened by defining the difference between stress and anxiety. While often times they are used interchangeably, Barnes sought to “sort the two out” and provide clarification.
“Stress is more situational, circumstantial – its life. Something provokes or triggers an emotional response. That response is not just anxiety, you can respond in other ways,” said Barnes. “But it’s helpful to identify the difference, to pinpoint the stressor.”
Senior education major Samantha Buck said this differentiation stood out to her the most. “Stress doesn’t always have to be bad. I recognize that some of it can be good and used to help myself personally and my students in the classroom.”
Barnes went on to highlight certain symptoms of anxiety, some which students may be all too familiar with. Items included aches and pains, irritability, fatigue and poor concentration.
Psychotherapist Dan Marrow and professor of health exercise and science, Doug Miller brought forward tips for parents on how to support children struggling with these experiences. But as a college student, living far away from parental supervision, how does one look after oneself?
The panelists touched on advice that could be applicable, despite not being young children.
Miller said in relation to a child’s enjoyment in recreational sports, “If we move from a performance-orientation to a behavior-orientation, we see the stress come down because we’ve given them something they can control.”
Human Development and Family Science major Emily Ramage related Miller’s advice to her academic experience. “It’s an important reminder that I should focus on the things I can control, like my mindset toward the work load, rather than obsessing over my grades that are not.”
“We have to remember that the power of fear is in the eye of the beholder,” said graduate studies professor Deedra Miller. She further explained how identifying underlying fears behind stressors will enable parents to better help children.
Generation Stress brought out a number of parents wanting to know more about the identification and management of anxiety. It also provided a way for students to relate it to their journeys in college.
“It’s definitely my perception that I need to change before I can accomplish my goals,” said Ramage. “I’m glad I was able to come.”
Messiah’s partnership with Geisinger Holy Spirit, an inpatient and outpatient medical center, includes a speaker series called Partners in Caring. Generation Stress was one of many that aims to address quality of life issues prevalent in southcentral Pennsylvania.