Teenagers are in the midst of a mental health crisis, a study has found. What can parents do?


The results of a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey add further evidence Adolescent mental health It is especially problematic when it comes to numbers around adolescent girls.

The study found About 1 in 3 high school girls More than half of teenage girls in the US have seriously considered suicide, with 57 percent saying they feel “constantly sad or hopeless” — a record high.

In contrast, 14% of high school boys in 2011 According to the 2021 survey, 13 percent said they were seriously considering suicide, up from 2011.

Among LGBQ+ students, nearly 70% reported experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in the past year, more than 50% had a mental health problem in the past 30 days, and nearly 25% reported having attempted suicide in the past year.

Alyssa Mayranz, licensed mental health counselor and owner Encourage mental healthShe says the numbers are shocking, but sadly, “she’s not surprised.”

“There are a few things that teenagers are going through today that older generations don’t,” Mairanz said. social mediaTowards harmful comparisons and online bullying and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on young minds.

So what can parents do to make sure their teens are safe?

Know the line between normal and not

“There’s a lot of things that are common to teenagers that aren’t anxiety, like general moodiness (and) fighting with parents. “Parents don’t know when anxiety is and what’s normal, so I think it’s extremely important to understand that line,” Mairanz said.

If you see your child, it could be a sign of something more serious, she says.

  • It is in strong, long-lasting low emotions.
  • Becoming more isolated or withdrawn, including not wanting to meet or see friends.
  • He doesn’t want to get out of bed
  • Is engaging in high-risk behaviors, including physical violence or heavy drug use.

Another sign that often goes under the radar? High perfection.

“A teenager who sets these very high, unrealistic standards for themselves in terms of anything — whether it’s the classroom, friends, looks,” she says. “If it’s really that high, it’s definitely a warning sign. These can often lead to depression (and) suicide.”

Discussing the results of a recent survey “Prime Time” on CBS News. Dr. Debra Houry, chief medical officer at the CDC, points out that changes in sleep and appetite can also be indicators.

Listen and check

“When parents provide more reassurance to their children and focus on their needs rather than what the parents think, teenagers are more open and willing to come to their parents when they’re in trouble,” Meiranz says.

Therefore, instead of opening a discussion, the purpose of presenting solutions is as follows:

  • Responding to an upset teen with, “Oh, that’s fine,” “It’s not a big deal,” or “Everything’s going to be okay.”
  • Or when a child does poorly on a test, “Let’s talk about how we can study better” or “Let’s take extra hard notes.”

Mairanz suggests listening and verifying instead.

“Parents don’t even realize how the way they respond to their teenage children is affecting them. … But most of the time, the children just need emotional support. Because when they hear a solution, they say, “Okay. I’m not doing enough.’

“Being as open and non-judgmental as possible” can help a child feel more comfortable coming out to their parents, Houry says.

Monitor social media usage

Parents should look for a “real code” between their child and their phone, which may seem like they’re on social media and can’t take a break, Meiranz advises.

“It’s important to try to give teenagers a break from all of that, especially if it affects their ability to work, go to school, do their homework, be with their friends,” she said.

Don’t be a stranger to your child’s circles

It’s important to not only talk to your child, but to get to know your child’s friends and their friends’ parents, says Houry.

“That way, you can have open communication with the families around you, build that support system, and make sure they have a good idea of ​​where your child is and what they’re doing,” she says.

Don’t ignore a child who asks for help

If a child asks for professional help, don’t turn it off. This is a signal to take action, say experts.

“Sometimes there’s still a stigma around medicine, especially by parents[who]want their kids to be well and take it personally if we’re not,” Meiranz explained. “Unfortunately for the parents, “You are fine. It’s just normal teenage stuff, you don’t need help.”

If a child is not well enough to seek support, look for signs they need professional help, including self-harm, increased drug use, withdrawal from school, or changes in relationships.

Make sure you are safe

While it’s important to focus on the toddler, Mairanz said it’s also important for parents to realize they need to focus on themselves.

“Kids have a lot to choose from, whether it’s related to their own mental health issues or especially around parenting — so if a parent is really struggling, it’s important for them to deal with that,” she says. “Know that part of helping your child is helping yourself.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress or crisis, you can reach out. 988 suicide and crisis life line You can call or text 988 Discuss with 988 suicide and crisis lifeline here.

For more information about Mental health care resources and supportThe National Institute on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or by email at info@nami.org.


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