We cannot even begin to talk about building back better from the pandemic before addressing the importance of improving emotional health. Arguably, awareness of emotional health and wellbeing have never been fully appreciated until the emergence of COVID-19. The pandemic has brought stress and discomfort upon our lives. The social and economic hardships we already face have been further exacerbated during this time. As the world recovers from this pandemic, we, as youth, must make swift, but steady progress to advocate the importance of our emotional wellbeing, as this is a crucial step to building back a better world.
I believe that the first step to achieving this would be for us to realize the prevalence of anxiety and depression around the world. According to data from the CDC, 7.1% of children aged 3-17 have diagnosed anxiety, while 3.2% of children aged 3-17 have diagnosed depression. Anxiety and depression have both been on a steady incline in the past decade, and have, without doubt, become primary issues of concern during this pandemic. I encourage my fellow youths around the world to advocate for an improved emotional support system in two ways:
Youths should advocate on using our natural environment to boost emotional wellbeing. Many studies have shown that having a plant near our workstations helps reduce anxiety and improve attention spans! One simple way for us, as youth, to contribute would be to encourage our schools to plant greens within classrooms. This not only benefits the students, but also the teachers who nurture them!
Music is another important tool to enhance our mental and emotional health. We have all probably heard of the saying that “music calms the soul.” It turns out that music actually has many other benefits, such as improving concentration, strengthening memory, and boosting academic performance. I encourage youth who can play musical instruments to explore and practice music therapy, which is basically playing music as a means of therapy for those with emotional needs. This can greatly benefit those with anxiety and depression.
We have an ambitious agenda to improve our world after COVID-19. As youth, we have the responsibility to address the issue of emotional health, an issue that would otherwise grow in prevalence and seriousness in the future. Apart from the environment and music, there has got to be many other possible ways to enhance emotional health. As we continue to churn out great ideas, we need to adopt what I call the “2030 vision”. This is a vision that requires us to look to the future rather than the past as we make changes that will bring back better to the world.