If you are a parent, teacher, mentor, school administration, non profit leader, or anyone who connected to children, this article is for you. Understand that as an adult, you have a role and responsibility to not only do your job in your respective role, but to also be an advocate and a solution to the problem.
According to Mental Health American, over 2.5 million youth in the U.S. have severe depression, and over 60% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment. These numbers are beyond me, and makes a clear indication of the work that needs to be done as it relates to understanding the needs of youth and their mental health.
If you are not sure where to start, here are some way you can actively help prioritize youth and their mental health:
1. Have Open Dialogue - Communication is essential. Don’t let “how was your day” be the only way you talk to them. They can’t know how to express themselves, if that is not being taught. Emotions aren’t biased. They show up in the youngest and the oldest. They need the tools, and communication helps them acquire those tools.
2. Be Present- Understand your presence is extremely valuable. Being aware of unfamiliar behaviors or mood changes, needs, etc. allows you to be more in tuned when things are possibly not ok. Being present also allows you to build a solid and genuine relationship to know who they really are.
3. Your Way Ain’t the Only Way – Being critical, or judgmental only creates more issues. Be open to the fact that your way may not be best way, or may not serve each person the same. Your openness promotes and create safety.
4. Solving the Problem is Not Always Necessary – Often times it’s not about finding the solution to the problem they may be facing. It can be something as simple as just expressing you care they had a bad day or that they are stressed about a test. Or their feelings were hurt by something someone said. Remember to be supportive NOT dismissive and solution driven.
5. Get Help - Therapy for Youth/Mental Health Services are ok, and IT WORKS! Sometimes youth don’t have the space to be vulnerable with people they know. Youth who have issues MUST feel comfortable before they open up. Understand that some things you may not even think impacts them, really does. Providing additional resources and advocating for youth doesn’t mean you can’t’ do your job, it means you don’t have to take on something you are not an expert in.
This type of dialogue is needed and very necessary. As a mental health professional, I had committed myself to helping to normalize the conversation about mental health and helping others get the help and resources they need.
Through Recycled Energy, we offer consulting, training, individual and group services that cater to the very things listed in this article. If you are looking to take the next step or are unsure which steps to take, contact me to learn more.