May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Are You Ready?

May 11, 2022

According to US News and World Report, teen suicide is up 4.5-fold (450%) in the last decade, with the bulk of the increase in the last three years. Covid lockdowns and social malfunction have been the new fuel on the depression fire.

National data has given us alarming and awful statistics about how our teens are coping with stress, and depression, potentially leading to suicide. Even pre-teen suicides are up 240% in the last decade.

Furthermore, according to the Oregon Department of Health, suicidal thoughts among our teens are at epidemic levels with more than 40% of all teens having at least one thought of suicide.

We, as parents, are always asking ourselves what to do once we recognize the symptoms in our teens.

Let’s begin with the symptoms:

  • Changes in behavior, especially with short-temper and irritability
  • New fears of everyday life situations
  • General apathy for the future
  • Social avoidance
  • Fights with good friends
  • Trouble sleeping or irregular sleep patterns
  • New risky behavior, including drugs, alcohol, or self-abuse.
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Headaches on a regular basis

Should you believe your teen is in immediate danger, you should call 211 or 911. Make an appointment with a licensed professional.

If you don’t know this, however, then you have to find out. You, as the parent, must begin with creating quality conversations with your teen. 

  • Dinner is the best place to talk. Make this time cell phone-free and social media-free.
  • Realize that parents can create more stress on our teens with unrealistic expectations.
  • Talk with your teen about their use of social media. I do believe that today’s social media platforms can be a huge source of angst for your teen.
  • Talk with your pediatrician and school counselor.
  • Encourage your teen to spend quality time with their friends.
  • Find out how school classes and friendships are doing. You may be surprised here.
  • Never stop being a source of encouragement.

Mother’s Day and the prospect of the school year-end can be overwhelming. Plus, the end of high school for seniors is a very scary, transitional time of going to college. This can and will create new levels of stress and withdrawal. Don’t think this stress and possible depression will go away on their own.  

Nothing will beat quality ongoing conversation and, if needed, professional help.

For more information, please call me at 510-206-1103.

All my best and Happy Mother’s Day,

Elliot

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