May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it is the perfect time to come together to educate ourselves and others about youth mental wellness and mental health disorders, the risks associated with untreated mental illnesses, including suicide and addiction, and where to reach out for help when necessary.
Why We Need Talk About Mental Health With Our Teens
One in five youth suffer from psychiatric disorders including anxiety, mood disorders, and ADHD
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in youth 25 years and younger
The number one risk for suicide is having a psychiatric disorder
How We Can Talk About Mental Health With Our Teens
For many of us, starting this important conversation within our homes can seem daunting. If your family members are not used to talking about their feelings and emotions, it may feel awkward and uncomfortable at first. However, the more you do it, the easier it will become. Here are some suggestions for starting and continuing the mental health conversation with your children, teenagers, young adults, and spouses:
1) Take care of your own mental health and lead by example.
2) Start talking about your own emotions, feelings, and wellness.
3) Be the first to open up the conversation by talking about your day.
4) Neutralize your tone and emotions.
5) Listen! Let your kids express their feelings and talk about their experiences.
6) Be non-judgmental. Don’t criticize the way they feel.
7) Instead of immediately trying to fix your teens' problems, be their teammate by offering support, encouraging further conversation, and guiding them to come up with their own solutions.
8) Don’t diagnose or assume your kids have a mental illness. Direct them to seek out professional resources such as school guidance counselors, mental health professionals, community organizations, and their pediatrician.
There is Hope.
While mental illness is prevalent among youth and does not discriminate based on race, religion, or economic status, there is hope. Early identification of mental illness and access to professional mental health resources and community support can prevent the worst outcomes. So, don’t wait.
Because May is Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s make it the month we all work to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and open the lines of communication within our communities, our schools, and our homes.
To find a list of local and national mental health resources, please visit my website, https://www.makkipsychiatry.com/resources-1.