Before Billie Eilish swept the Grammys last month, she had largely flown under the radar of anyone over the age of But at barely 18 years old, Eilish made history as the youngest solo artist to win album of the year.
Onstage at the awards, Eilish repeatedly suggested that other nominees deserved these honors more. We wrote an album about depression, and suicidal thoughts, and climate change, and being the bad guy—whatever that means—and we stand up here confused and grateful. Adults are kind of weirded out by it.
Her latest music video on YouTube garnered 33 million views. Some of her lyrics are indeed scary. Life is hard. Adults are handing down a screwed-up world. Politics is depressing. Why not find a way to laugh about all of it? Her understated, near-mumbling voice stands out against the likes of Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande. Because all of this speaks to what teenagers perhaps need most: hope.
Anxiety and depression in particular are on the rise, dominating the ways young people talk about their generation. Suicide currently is the second leading cause of death in young people aged 10 to While feeling lonely and misunderstood are hallmarks of adolescence and young adulthood at least across the last few generations , some suggest Gen Z is the loneliest yet, and a just-released study found 7 out of 10 often feel misunderstood.
Perhaps her popularity is rising on the wings of a generation who feels like finally someone understands and is giving voice to their experiences. What does this mean for parents, educators, coaches, and faith leaders who care about young people? Young people need to know that anxiety itself need not be dark and scary. Everyone experiences anxiety. It might be telling us something about our bodies, our relationships, or that we need more sleep.
This is where adults can help by listening as a first step. She helps put words to feelings. She represents hope— if Billie can get through this, so can I. As adults, we can offer similar assurance from closer proximity. The more we talk about anxiety as part of life, the more we normalize the conversation. And for people of faith, talking about anxiety, depression, and suicide can help destigmatize mental health and make it part of our discipleship journey.
Often, we see that while God may neither cause anxiety nor erase it, God is present and stays with biblical characters in their most anxious moments. Mark recounts a turbulent night when Jesus walks on water and calms a storm. In this story, Jesus actually gets in the boat and then stays in the boat with his anxious disciples. Anxiety can actually become a personal and spiritual growth tool when we learn to ask ourselves questions like, Where is God at work in the midst of my worry?
Sometimes all a teenager needs to turn a corner is to stop and breathe. Helping a young person slow down their breathing allows the heart to slow down and pump more oxygen to the brain, quieting the alarm systems triggered by intense moments. While most anxiety is manageable for most people, anxious feelings can, at times, have the potential to grow and cause a lot of disruption in our lives. It can be tough to know when a teenager needs outside help. Adults can learn key signs to watch for and steps to take when we suspect something deeper might be going on.
Experts say that these signals include trouble managing anxiety, struggles dealing with everyday life, pronounced intensity in any given aspect of life, and use of unhealthy coping strategies like alcohol, drugs, or self-harm. Parents should trust their gut to talk to their teen when they sense something is wrong, then try to listen without judgment to what the young person is experiencing.
One conversation could be enough to turn a corner, or more professional help might be needed. Maybe Billie Eilish is just dark and disturbing. Maybe her music is a harbinger of something new. Brad M. To unlock this article for your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below. To share this article with your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below.
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