Adolescent Mental Health - Urban Hassles and Chronic Stress

Chronic stress during adolescence can have significant effect on individuals' long-term mental health. This stress can include environmental and social stresses ... so what can we conclude about the stress of inner-city life, such as poverty and violence, and its impact on the development of urban youth?    

According to David Miller, a perceptive researcher, urban adolescents reported high levels of daily hassles. The two most commonly reported hassles were: 1) pressure to join a gang (84.5%); and 2) being offered sex by drug addicts for money (89.3%).  Here are some examples of the daily hassles:

Some Examples of Pressures
 Reported a LotReported a Little
Take different routes home to keep safe66.9%21.5%
Pressured by friends to join a gang84.5%2.3%
Made fun of because of grades73.6%17.1%
Worried that someone would try to take clothes, shoes, money54.6%29.2%
Pressured to carry weapon for protection60.8%23.8%
Must work to help play bills at home74.6%16.9%
Nervous about gun shots/sirens at night56.5%25.2%
Keeping fear about safety secret from friends61.8%22.1%
Offered sex by drug addicts for money83.2%6.1%

What's the data show? Lots, including the need to react early to help adolescents under stress, as well as strengthening urban networks and economies to create more opportunities and increase stability. In 1982, recording artist and Rock Hall inductee, Grandmaster Flash told us, "don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge. I'm trying not to lose my head. It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under."  The Message.   How prophetic.

For more information, visit the Schubert Center for Child Studies, Case Western Reserve University and find the research of Dr. David Miller, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University.