Eyes on the Prize: Helping children overcome the stigma of wearing glasses (Part 4 of 4)
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08-31-15 Category: Mental Health

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The diagnosis of vision problems in children often comes with a prescription for glasses. The American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) states that, as children are still growing, “glasses may play an important role in ensuring normal development of vision.” Children who wear glasses could face bullying that can turn a solution for poor eyesight into a new problem altogether. Bullying is associated with the development of anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. In honor of Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, health care professionals around the nation aim to raise awareness on eye health issues and reduce the stigma that many children wearing glasses face in school and other communities.

The film and television industry perpetuates stereotypes of individuals who wear glasses. As Ann Zawistoski, co-founder of annual awareness event The Great Glasses Play Day, explains, this contributes to the misconceptions “that people in glasses are nerdy or shy or clumsy or awkward or weak.” For instance, the 1999 film “She’s All That” features nerdy high school art student Laney Boggs, played by Rachael Leigh Cook. Laney wears glasses, which are the first things to go when she undergoes a glamorous makeover toward the end of the film. This is not an uncommon depiction. Zawistoski notes that the popular book and movie franchise “Harry Potter” fights these stereotypes as the titular character, a popular hero and star athlete, dons glasses while his meticulous, brilliant best friend does not. While the perpetuation of these stereotypes is not solely responsible for children being bullied for wearing glasses, it reinforces misconceptions and serves as fodder for bullies.

Bullying can affect a child’s self-worth, confidence and overall mental health. There are many red flags that indicate a child might be getting bullied for wearing glasses. For instance, if a child refuses to go to school or refuses to wear glasses, this often means the child is being teased. Children struggling with bullying also often seek validation from family members. In this respect, if a child is told he or she “looks funny” with glasses, that individual might go home and ask siblings or parents if they think he or she “looks funny” when wearing glasses. Though some still believe teasing is a natural part of childhood, bullying can have adverse effects that permeate the child’s physical, emotional and social development and academic life.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues related to bullying or other triggers, help is available. Sovereign Health Group specializes in treating individuals struggling with mental health disorders, substance abuse issues and dual diagnosis. Call (866) 819-0427 to speak with a professional today.

Written by Courtney Howard, Sovereign Health Group writer

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