CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Back to school is here and the start of a new year brings challenges for students. Starting a new grade level, balancing school, extracurricular and social life can affect a student’s mental health.
According to NAMI, 1 in 6 youth ages 6 to 17 experience a mental health disorder.
Additional data from NAMI indicates that 37,000 Iowans ages 12 to 17 have depression. Last year, more than half received no care.
And students with high school depression are twice as likely to drop out than their peers.
Mona McClay-Withers, executive director of NAMI Linn County, said young children may not be able to express their struggles directly.
She said there are some red flags that parents, teachers and coaches can watch for.
“You can see some of the behaviors they’re showing. They might be a little more angry. They might complain about things like stomach aches or headaches. They might show some aggressive behavior at school,” she says.
McCauley-Withers said there are signs you can watch for older students, too.
“Maybe they’re engaging in more dangerous behavior. Drinking, sexual immorality. Oversleeping or oversleeping. They may even have things like a loss of interest in their normal activities,” McCulley-Withers said.
McCauley-Withers added some things we can do to support mental health, including mindfulness activities like yoga or writing in gratitude journals.
And of course, if you are experiencing a mental health crisis, you can always call the 988 helpline which will connect you to a mental health professional.
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