Tips for supporting youth mental health – PUBLIC HEALTH INSIDER
As Washington state heads into its second full winter of the COVID-19 pandemic, people of all ages continue to feel stressed, isolated, and grieving and losing. Our community is particularly concerned about the well-being of young people, whose social networks and routines are disrupted. Vaccines for children and youth ages 5 and up make a difference, as well as community care and support, peer support networks, and in-person return to school.
However, data released Nov. 16 by Public Health – Seattle and King County show that the situation is complicated. The good news is that the number of suicide deaths to date in 2021 is lower than it was around this time in 2019 or 2020. Additionally, no teenager in King County has died by suicide in the month of. October. But data also shows high rates of symptoms of depression and anxiety in young adults. In addition, emergency department visits for suicide attempts and suicidal ideation among children and youth have returned to pre-pandemic levels, straining health systems as they respond to needs. medical and youth mental health. These trends are not unique to King County and reflect national data.
While a return to more normal routines for children and youth is helpful, it is clear that even positive transitions like returning to school and immunization can be difficult to manage, especially for young people who are learning. just coping with stress and coping with their emotions. So what can supportive adults do to stop youth mental health crises before they start and respond appropriately when they do?
Tips for promoting the emotional well-being of young people
Be aware of the sources of stress for the young people around you and the adults around them. Ask yourself the following question: What contributes to anxiety or stress? How can this youth’s adult and peer support network ease the burden?
Nurture caring and trusting relationships – within and / or outside the family. Make room for non-judgmental listening. Remember that a major stressor for a young person may seem insignificant to an adult, but their feelings are real. Talk openly about mental health and coping skills – think about it psychological health.
Keep an eye out for changes in behavior, hygiene, schoolwork, and relationships. If you see something that doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it. Tell the young person what you see and give them space to talk about what is going on.
If you have any concerns, make sure your home is not contributing to the risk. Safely lock or temporarily remove firearms, even if you think the youngster does not know where they are or how to use them. Lock out medications, even over-the-counter pain relievers and allergy medications, as drug overdose is the most common method for non-fatal suicide attempts. If you do not share a home with the young person, communicate with the people they live with to reduce these risks.
Ask the young person directly, in a manner appropriate to their culture and communication style, if they are thinking about suicide. Asking this question does not induce suicide, and it gives you the information you need to be supportive. For example: âWhen people stop communicating with their friends, it sometimes means that they are thinking about suicide. Is this something you have thought about? “
If the answer is yes, take action, but don’t panic!
- If you think the youngster can’t be safe now, go to the emergency room. Emergency departments are always open and have services available for emergencies such as suicidal thoughts.
- If you need help right away but don’t need to go to the hospital, you can:
- Call Children’s Crisis Outreach Services (CCORS), who can come to you to provide free 24-hour crisis intervention, including de-escalation, safety planning, and connecting to longer-term support. Call 206-461-3222 for assistance. Linguistic interpretation is available.
- Call a crisis line like King County Crisis Line To 206-461-3222; the National lifeline for suicide prevention at 800-273-8255; the Project Trevor for LGBTQ youth at 1-866-488-7386; or text “HOME” to 741-741 to Crisis text line. Trained counselors can speak directly to the youth or to you, with language interpretation available. Put these numbers in your phone and the teenager’s phone.
- Consider longer-term resources, such as outpatient mental health treatment. Talk to your child’s pediatrician and school health care providers and / or call Washington Mental Health Referral Service at 1-833-303-5437 to help you find appropriate treatment. There may be long wait times for outpatient services, but don’t give up.
- Mental health crises in our youth and children are stressful for caregivers. The crisis aids listed here are also available for adults, regardless of income and family health insurance, and your own support network can help as well.
For more information read Public health data sheet.
Originally posted 11/19/21