January 2020

President’s Letter: Anxiety’s Effect on Us

By Lisa Tenreiro
The epidemic of anxiety among today's teens is certainly one of the most talked about concerns in schools. Whether it is the result of high expectations and pressure to succeed, frightening world events, social media, genetics, brain chemistry, life events or the dangerous combination of any or all of these, we are seeing anxiety’s startling effects. And the problem doesn't end there. Students with chronic anxiety are experiencing more serious mental health problems, physical ailments and school setbacks. As students’ anxiety increases, I can't help but wonder what the statistics and research might say about the anxiety levels of school counselors who are supporting not only students but also families and colleagues as they navigate these heightened levels of overwhelmedness.

If you are like me, you are often trying to tease things out in your head. Are we just very worried or are we, too, experiencing our own anxiety? Are our anxious feelings normal or are we now part of the epidemic? Would essential oils, therapy, yoga, more sleep, medication or a dangerous combination (I'm picturing sitting all alone in the yoga class because of my overapplied lavender oil) of these help ease our overworked and worried minds?

As we head into the new year, I am fully committed to making a variety of well-intended resolutions. My success rate leaves a great deal to be desired; however, in 2020 I am as determined as ever to put my mental health above everything, beginning with being mindful of the expectations I set for myself. We cannot pour from an empty cup and our cup will remain unfilled if we don't make changes to how we take care of ourselves; even the littlest of changes may have big rewards.

So here’s to 2020, a new year filled with new problems to solve! A time of personal and professional reflection and goal setting. Our hope is that you make time to attend to your own mental health and set realistic expectations so you can continue to be an amazing resource to your students. RISCA is here to cheer you on! 

Please join us at our winter Counselor Meet-Up, a convenient and quick way to stay in touch with your statewide colleagues and discuss issues that affect our day-to-day work. At our first meet-up we will welcome folks from the Pediatric Anxiety Research Center (PARC) at Bradley Hospital. Details regarding the date and the location of this meet-up will be shared over the holiday break.

May the new year bring you peace, joy and balance!

Contact Lisa Tenreiro, RISCA president, at tenreirol@mtstcharles.org.