Building Resilience in Children Pays Lifelong Dividends

Resilient children tend to do better in school, are healthier, and feel better about themselves.
Resilience in Children

It certainly does feel like 2020 has presented us all with a disproportionate number of challenges and events that add stress and anxiety to our lives. COVID-19, racial injustice and social unrest, wildfires, hurricanes, and a heated election affect us all, possibly more deeply than we even realize. While children may be too young to understand completely all of what is going on around them, they’re not too young to be affected.

For the most resilient children, these factors are challenges to bounce back from. Those with low resilience, however, are more likely to have worse physical health, higher rates of stress and anxiety, feel bad about themselves, and do poorly in school.

Fortunately, resilience is a life-long skill that can be developed and honed at any age. Building great personal resilience will help put children – and adults – on a healthier and more productive path for dealing with life’s challenges.

Resilience at risk

According to the new Cigna Resilience Index, three in five Americans lack the ability to bounce back quickly when confronted with difficult situations. The index, which is the largest U.S. study of resilience among children, their parents, young adults and working-age adults, found that 5- to 10-year-old children have high rates of resilience. As they go through adolescence, their resilience declines sharply, reaching its lowest point for young adults from 18 to 23. Only 37 percent of adults working full time have high resilience.

Resilience is a skill everyone is born with, and all children in the U.S. start off with similar resilience levels. However, race increasingly becomes a factor as children move through teenage years. The most significant drop is seen in Black teenagers and young adults: from 45 percent among 14- to 17-year-old teens to just 16 percent among 18- to 23-year-old young adults.

However, young adults and parents of all races who describe themselves as part of diverse communities are more likely to be resilient, and so are their children.

The study also found that about three in 10 children say they only sometimes “fit in” or do not “fit in.” Those in the latter group are over 20 times more likely to have low resilience than other children.

Helping retain and repair resilience

Parents, teachers, coaches, community leaders, and other adults play a critical role in helping children cope and grow through challenges. Resilient adults tend to have more resilient children, who are more likely to grow up to be higher achieving and stronger contributors as adults.

Cigna’s research, fielded in partnership with the Resilience Research Centre and Dynata, found a strong connection between resilience and good mental and physical health, access to tools and resources, staying connected socially, and being surrounded by a diverse community.

The research shows that building and practicing resilience from a young age has a significant impact on overall health and well-being through adulthood – which has the propensity to lower health care costs and reduce spending. But while that might be the case, COVID-19 has exacerbated resilience in adults, with three-fourths of employers surveyed in June citing mental health as a top workforce concern. Recognizing this area of concern, Evernorth has included a number of programs under its Healthy Ways to Work suite of solutions to address these challenging times:

  • Evernorth inMyndSM behavioral health solution offers a thoughtful and connected approach that helps patients and payers better recognize, treat and support mental and behavioral health conditions. This program includes digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (dCBT) support.
  • Our standalone digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy solution, available via app and web, will target patients living with depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Digital behavioral health care is part of the Evernorth Digital Health Formulary, a platform that streamlines the process of reviewing digital health tools to ensure clinical effectiveness, usability, security, and financial value.
  • Express Scripts’ Health Connect 360SM is a holistic clinical management strategy that delivers guaranteed clinical and financial outcomes. This clinical management strategy includes inMynd and dCBT capabilities, along with adherence support, member engagement through remote monitoring capabilities, continued management through use of clinical pharmacist support, and health and safety alerts.

Given the current situation and hardships that have swept the nation over the past year, these solutions serve as a starting point. We will continue to explore ways to help Americans of all ages build and improve the skills they need to be resilient in the face of challenges and hardships throughout their lives.

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