Teacher, May I be Excused to the Toilet? Don’t Feel So Well. Not Sure Why, I Feel Nervous all the Time…

Manas Jha
July, 2020

These are the words I could never say in school. Every day was a silent struggle... Praying my name wasn’t called in class, avoiding friends on the soccer field, and engaging in substances that I was far too young to experience.

Now, 18 years on, I have a name for what I was going through – anxiety disorder. I was one out of 8 kids who typically suffer from this mental health condition. Being a topic that is often ignored and under-reported, most kids go untreated.

Today, with classrooms closed under lockdown, unequal access to technology, and a general disruption of routine, I fear the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to increased anxiety. Being a new dad, I worry our children may not be able to communicate what they’re going through.

Back home in India, this is also high-school exam season. A time that is already unsettling for students who live in a country that places unrealistic expectations on academic performance, is now made worse with kids graduating into a pandemic and a recession that has only made the mental health of many even more fragile.

At such a bizarre and stressful time, I wanted to call attention to anxiety disorder in children. I was looking for a way to open up a discussion about children’s anxious behaviors, sharing my own experiences.

Growing up, what I had trouble describing in words, I could express through music. So, I teamed up with Grammy award winning Morningstar Studios in Philadelphia, and International Film Festival acclaimed Ekabhuya Animation Studio in Mumbai, to create a music video that plays out incidents from my school days dealing with anxiety. The video encourages ones struggling to seek out help from family, friends, or professionals.

I want to thank the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) for their guidance and support. With their help, I learned that untreated kids with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in
substance abuse.

The resources and community that adaa.org offers helped me overcome this issue. My hope is that it helps others as well.

Watch the SHADES official music video on YouTube - https://youtu.be/qzz6sgGjHbg

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