May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
Did you know that 50% of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24? This is why there needs to be a greater understanding and a greater sense of comfort about the topic, in order to break the stigma associated with mental health.
Overall, different mental health conditions include many different types of symptoms and warning signs. The following is a list of symptoms to look out for in yourself or in others:
- ➢ Drastic changes in mood, behavior, personality or sleep
- ➢ Severe, risk-taking behaviors
- ➢ Feeling sad/withdrawn for more than two weeks
- ➢ Difficulty in concentrating or staying still
- ➢ Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, and worthlessness
- ➢ Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
- ➢ Difficulty concentrating
- ➢ Thoughts of death or suicide
- ➢ Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- ➢ Variations in breathing
- ➢ Increased weakness
- ➢ Inability to control worries
While some of these symptoms are common amongst adolescents, when they persist for a long period of time and negatively affect one’s well-being, it may be a sign to talk to a trusted person about it.
Managing Mental Health:
Here are some tips to help keep your mental health in check:
- ➢ Discuss your problems with other people and get help when needed.
- ➢ Set small goals for yourself.
- ➢ Schedule breaks.
- ➢ Get enough sleep, exercise and eat regular meals
- ➢ Stay away from drugs and alcohol.
- ➢ Unplug from computers and phones.
- ➢ Hang out with good people who really support you.
- ➢ Check in with the school counselor or a trusted adult.
What about Suicide?
If you are worried that someone you know may be considering suicide, talk to them. Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won’t push someone into doing something self-destructive. However, if you are still worried despite talking with them, connect them to an adult immediately. You can also give them the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s free and confidential, and they have support available 24/7!
How do I ask my friend if they need help?
Here are some tips on how to start a difficult conversation with a friend:
- Find a quiet place to talk, away from other people, interruptions, and distractions.
- Ask open-ended questions. Examples: “What’s been going on?,” “When did it start?,” “How are you dealing with that?”
- Summarize what is being said. This helps you make sure you understand, and it lets your friend know that you’re listening and that you care about getting it right. Examples: “Sounds like you’re angry at your sister,” “That all sounds really stressful,” “So, because of all this, you have to do more at home.”
- Do not criticize. Be sure to stick to the facts and stay as neutral as possible.
- Avoid Giving Advice. You may think you know what’s best for someone and you want to tell them what they should do. If they ask for your advice, or if it’s not a sensitive topic, go for it!
To help others learn how to talk to a friend about mental health, we created a mental health campaign in these schools:
Mount Hebron HS
River Hill HS
We recruited a few student ambassadors from each school to run the campaign, created promotional materials, campaign giveaways and information to distribute, designed and created display boards, and set up information tables.
You can do it too! We created a youth ambassador manual that outlines the steps and actions taken to make this successful, using the Michigan Medicine’s Depression Awareness Peer to Peer Toolkit (2016-2017) as an example.
Email Dr. Jackie Dougé at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can get involved!
Keep talking about mental health awareness. Ask people how they’re doing and mean it! Always be ready to listen and encourage. Ask questions and never judge.
Also, don’t forget to talk to loved ones about how they are feeling. Regularly check in with those close to you, especially if you know they are dealing with a mental illness.
Free Crisis Hotlines:
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Teen Line: 1-310-855-HOPE (4673) or 1-800-TLC-TEEN (852-8336)
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741-741
You can also contact the Grassroots Crisis Intervention 24-Hour Crisis Hotline if you need to speak to someone.
Talk: 410.531.6677 // Visit: www.grassrootscrisis.org
Follow us on Instagram @teenhealthmatters_ for more!