Talk to any high school student right now, and they’ll concur: The pressure is on.
Like teens of all eras, Philly adolescents are thinking about SAT prep, driving, social drama, their post-high school plans. Like no other generation before them, they’re simultaneously wrestling with the fate of the world during a global pandemic, the growing threat of climate change, the perils of life online, and pervasive racial injustice—all while living in a city with a seemingly immovable 25 percent poverty rate, a raging opioid crisis, and an ever-soaring homicide epidemic.
A steady stream of research substantiates Gen Z’s stress: The CDC reported that, last year, the proportion of pediatric emergency admissions for mental problems like panic and anxiety was up by 24 percent for young children and 31 percent for adolescents, compared to 2019. Rates of suicidal thinking and behavior were also up by 25 percent (or more) from similar periods in 2019.Header photo: Students from the Carver High School of Engineering & Science. Photo by Helena Showell