Written by Doctor G

Why is there so much pressure to not be OK?

Hi! pressure

Welcome to the intersection of my thoughts. I’ve had three ideas swirling around in my head recently and I’m hoping you can help me find the center of them.

The first comes from this video I stitched (just means I played a quick bit and then added my reaction) about how we are often doing OK, with some normal ups and downs of emotion. That feeling “bad” – in the absence of true mental illness or grief – is often pretty short lived and just requires a little patience or distraction to get through.

The second is from this book: Bad Therapy by Abigail Shrier, a review and quick summary of which is here. One of the fundamental messages of the book is that we accidentally reward and reinforce kids who are not OK through a variety of more and more commonly used tools. Frequent social emotional “check ins” in school, for example, not only give more attention to kids and teens who have problems (which can be great), the repetition sows the idea that we think they’re probably not OK at baseline. Though I don’t agree with every premise in her book, this rings for me and she has the research to back it up.

The third and last is this. Last week I asked you to think about who in your life needed to be OK for you to feel OK. I heard back from over a hundred people who told me some version of “I appreciate your thoughts but I can’t possibly be OK when my kids are not.”

I want us to look carefully and critically at children’s mental health (and our own). I want everyone who needs help to get it.

And yet I’m thinking more and more often that there are side effects to the ways we’re trying to intervene. That we’re creating a culture in which kids assume at baseline that they are NOT doing well and that the times they do feel well are the anomaly instead of the other way around.

No action item for you this week, just a question – what do you think? Comment and tell me please! I love learning from and with you.

All my best,

Dr. G

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