Parents and students attended a documentary viewing and therapist debrief on Thursday, Feb. 6 in the cafetorium, to learn about anxiety and its sociological effects. This 56-minute indie film was created to influence global conversations and to raise awareness in relation to anxiety and depression.
The screening, titled Angst, featured candid interviews of teenagers, children, and parents who currently suffer or have suffered in the past from clinical anxiety, as well as dealt with it alongside loved ones. The organization that provided this educational experience was the Partners In Education Foundation, who has wanted to encourage glad participation in this universal issue.
“There is a lot of academic stress,” CJ Hill ‘21 said. “I can walk around hallways and see kids that are anxious, and Westwood is really good at helping and getting kids to talk to each other about their problems.”
This movie took another perspective on anxiety within young adults and kids throughout the community. Teenagers and parents shared their experiences with anxiety and how they coped with certain fears. A major point recognized in the film was that everyone’s anxiousness comes from their core fears. They demonstrated that by asking yourself ‘why’ repetitively, it helps you realize that most problems are microscopic, and the unknown outcomes are more intimidating than the real burden. They also revisited the sad fact that society has established a common bias where mental health disorders are not as crucial as physical problems. They talked through how the brain can induce many concerning physical problems.
“The things I notice most are raising heartbeats, changing breath, shifty eyes, sweating, and trembling,” Counseling Psychologist Whitney Wheeler said. “These are normal responses which are interesting because they are fear responses, but they also happen when we exercise really hard. These have similar symptoms.”
Multiple students and specialists in the film voiced their opinions on the causes and effects of anxiety and how young adults should grapple with it. Different doctors and specialists talked about the benefits of exposure, journalism, and other types of therapy.
“I think that stress and anxiety are natural,” Jackson Lind said. “There are so many advanced and prestigious classes here at Westwood and it can affect anyone.”
Following the documentary, parents and students wrote questions for the visiting psychologists to discuss and provide feedback. They often revisited the acronym “ACE” which stands for Achievement Connection Enjoyment. The specialists explained that checking these factors daily can drastically improve life quality. Additionally, the majority of the questions asked were relating to parenting, and how, as a supportive parent, you can help your child with anxiety in the best ways possible.
“I think sometimes with teenagers, anxiousness may be manifested more in terms of irritability and anger sometimes,” Psychologist Dr. Diana Damer said. “Sometimes depression can look more like irritability which is something that is maybe a little bit unique to teenagers, and with kids, it can sometimes look more like acting out.”
The topic of depression and anxiety developed into a much bigger talk of how they individually and conjointly affect a child’s growing brain. In the end, the audience walked away from this presentation noticing the basic needs when undergoing anxiety.