Part 2: Mindyra Mental Health Workshop Recap
We are in the midst of a youth mental health crisis. Due to COVID-19, social isolation has increased substantially and approximately 140,000 youth in the U.S. have experienced the death of a caregiver. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth. It is scary, but there are ways adults, teachers, and caregivers can provide meaningful support for children today.
It is important to know what to look for when a child is struggling with their mental health. Observations of behavior are crucial, especially when younger children are unable to articulate their feelings.
- Be aware of developmental milestones and discuss progress with your pediatrician if you notice significant delays. Note: Milestones can be highly variable.
- General Behavior: How is the child doing compared to how they were doing before? New behaviors? Aggressive? Sleeping a lot? Not socializing?
- Consider academic progress or achievement: How is the child doing compared to other children in their class or siblings? Is it a change from previous years or semesters?
* Notice the behaviors we are looking at are all “relative” or compared to something else
When observing behavior, it is imperative to understand common myths associated with children’s mental health:
Generally speaking, behavior is pretty consistent. Inconsistencies can give us little hints about how different environments impact a child’s behavior. So, what are the next steps when you notice inconsistencies in your child(ren)’s behavior?
If possible, talk with your child. This will depend on the child’s cognitive ability; for younger children, feeling charts can be a helpful tool. Teens will typically be better equipped to have a discussion because their brains are more developed and are able to reflect on their feelings and experiences. Sometimes, your child may feel more comfortable talking with another person (different parent/family member, close friend, doctor, therapist, etc.) about their mental health. Don’t take it personally! It is more important that they are talking and reaching out for help.
Talk with your pediatrician about what you are seeing and get a referral to a mental health specialist (if necessary). Using this search tool, you can work with your doctor to determine which type of therapy is best for your child or research therapists in your area. In addition, it can be beneficial to connect with other families who have been or are going through a similar situation.
If My Child Needs a Therapist: How Do I Find “The Right” Person?
- Shop Around
- Not everyone is going to be a good match; it may take some time to find the right person to work with. Online therapist finders can be helpful- Use filtering to find a therapist who meets your requirements.
- Talk to your child’s provider, friends, family, etc.
- Find someone who understands your child’s needs and can objectively tell you if the child is making improvements.
An Estimated ~18% of High School Students Have Actively Thought About Suicide: What If My Child Expresses Suicidality?
- Remain open and supportive of your child sharing their emotions, thoughts, and experiences
- Dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you believe your child is in imminent danger of harming themselves
- Check-in regarding suicidal statements
- “I am concerned about what you said; let’s talk about it.”
- “I love you, and I am here for you.”
My Child Has Not Shown Or Expressed Concerning Thoughts or Behaviors: How Can I Practice Preventative Care?
- Normalize the conversation on mental health:
- How are you feeling today?
- Mindfulness meditation in classrooms or at home for young kids
- Ensure that there’s some level or degree of predictability in everything that you do
- Create a routine
- Family routines help family members organize themselves, so everyone knows who should do what, when, in what order, and how often.
- Utilize technology to support your child’s ongoing mental health.
- Psyberguide is a search tool to find mental health apps vetted by mental health professionals.
Lastly, below are several resources for those who are looking for additional support:
Mobile apps: PTSD Coach, Virtual Hope Box, Happify (encouraged to read reviews prior to starting any at: https://onemindpsyberguide.org/apps/
Find a Therapist (Psych Today): https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/