From Date - Dec 03, 2020


Giving a Helping Hand with Adolescence


teen coming out of a hole


I was reflecting the other day upon how best to describe our job here at e5 and the following image sprang to mind. Imagine that you are in a huge flat field with hundreds of holes drilled into the ground to various depths, then you drop an adolescent in each hole. That is pretty much where many of today's adolescents find themselves. Living on a diet of Pepsi Cola, examinations and social media. This is, of course, a recipe for disaster. Many of our members come to us feeling isolated, incapacitated, anxious and depressed. Instead of feeding them light and nourishment we as a society are feeding them on a diet of doom, gloom and despair. Without getting too political the quality of our Alpha male political elite is not exactly inspiring and unlike with previous generations these kids can see that far.

Of course adolescence has always been a problematic time, but it is becoming increasingly complex and demanding in nature. I like the generations before me, was pretty oblivious to world issues and was absorbed in my own little world which did not extend far beyond family. Until relatively recently you belonged to your tribe, class, nation, religion. Things were simple, you might not have liked it, as in my case, but at least it was clear and you knew where you stood. This scene is no longer relevant for many of the youngsters who become members of e5-portfolio. They are more than aware of the plight of the other, as most now have more than one nationality and genes from diverse places, to say nothing of a diet of 24 hour a day global bad news. My own children hold three passports, two of the three of them do not however, bear real allegiance to any one place or nation. So the issue of identity has always been an interesting one but it is becoming much more complex in nature.
 
We are propagating a new generation of adolescents whose identity(s) is not adequately recognised by society. This does of course impact greatly on their feelings of security and purpose. By purpose I am referring to the fact that a sense of purpose can render greater meaning to one's existence. Who does not want to feel valued and engage in acts which are meaningful?  

Today's youth may possess several identities and there is of course great hope as the movements on climate change, BLM, social equality and others are driven in the most part by the best educated generation of young people ever to live on the planet.

Now to return to our story, if the menu for those in their hole is the next global pandemic, social injustice, child exploitation, human trafficking, racism, sexism, climate change etc. etc. topped off with the toughest exams they will ever have to face in their lives, it is hardly surprising that they are not in great shape. I argue here that we are failing them by asking them to fit preconceived notions which no longer match up to the present realities. Hugely problematic issues that they as a generation will inherit and already impact upon their wellbeing at this time.

Firstly we need to recognise the signs that this is already creating signs of disorder. Feelings of worthless and guilt, sudden missing of school or performing poorly, loss of pleasure or interest, difficulty in organising or concentrating, drastic changes in weight or appetite, difficulty falling asleep, walking or talking more slowly, withdrawing from friends or family, restlessness or acting up These are all classic signs of depression and that itself stems from anxiety and stress. The WHO warns us that depression is on the increase on a global scale so it is time to start doing some strategic thinking about this growing phenomena.

What we do as faculty at e5 is walk over to the hole and offer the individual we find trapped in there a hand up. When they can prop their arms on the surface they suddenly have a 360 degree vista and much more light. It is our job then to ask them to profile themselves and their situation. Helping them find and celebrate their own identity is crucial here. Only when they are comfortable with themselves (as individuals) will they be comfortable with others (the group or community). From that point they can decant their passion into a portfolio and match that to the institution or career which will foster the learning most appropriate to them. We can then trace the pathway to the appropriate destination…...usually a top university in the creative arts.

Like most good strategies it is fairly simple. So if the reader is a young creative feeling as though they are stuck in the hole and are feeling overwhelmed by events then the first thing to do is to reach up and find that helping hand. e5 offers its members their own personal coach and mentor who will guide you on your chosen pathway. 

It should always be remembered that we are never alone and that the sun is always shining even in times when it is dark. 

Written by Stephen Preece 
Geneva Switzerland
Inspired from 10 Signs of Hope for Depression Research foundation 



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Stephen Preece, e5-art portfolio Founder 

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