The Kids are Not Alright

A map for a new generation

Tara Lingeman


Photo by Joice Kelly on Unsplash

“The kids are not alright!”

Or, are they? Maybe they are better than ever. Maybe we should follow their lead.

Even before the pandemic, my classroom was riddled with students struggling with anxiety. They dragged themselves through the door of school and into my English classroom with resignation. I spent a lot of time holding space for kids to share their trauma or leading them in some 4–7–8 breathing to quell their panic.

I wondered then, were more students dealing with trauma or mental health issues than in the past? Or was it just that society had shifted enough that they were willing to open up? Was it simply that this generation believes that they deserve help?

When we returned post-quarantine to in-person learning, students had become even more able to vocalize their views and their needs.

They are standing up for their rights across the country.

Between the pandemic, the expansion of the Black Lives Matter movement, the nationwide fight over Trans rights, the election of 2020, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade, today’s young people have developed a broader social and political awareness than students have had in years.

With Tik Tok, education and awareness around mental health issues has expanded as well, and students are less afraid to admit when they are struggling. They are demanding the help they need. They know life can change in an instant without their permission.

As an educator, I’ve had a front seat to witness the change.

These young people are deep; they are bright; they are cracked open in the best possible way.

As a person who has struggled with my own issues, and found transformation through a broad array of spiritual practices, I show up in my classroom with empathy for their pain and a desire to help them find their way to something that works for them.

I don’t have to tell them this; they know.

Students regularly approach me and ask specific questions like, “How do you stay so calm and peaceful?” “How do…



Tara Lingeman

Seeker, Lover of Stories, Writer, and Teacher. Author of a memoir about searching and finding and a novel, Salamandra. Find both @