To make progress in reducing the rates of youth suicide, it is imperative that the United States improve its system for mental health care. The health care system is largely ineffective, and the inadequacies reinforce feelings of hopelessness. Inadequacies should be addressed, and more research funding must be allocated for prevention and treatment. But what exactly is the need for increased funding for mental health? This important issue deserves more attention than it is currently getting.
Many factors play a role in the development of adolescent mental illness, including family dynamics, peer relationships, and school environments. Although most adolescents experience some level of episodic mental distress, early intervention and treatment are vital to addressing the needs of this group. A supportive family network is crucial for the well-being of a youth. With a supportive environment, it’s possible to reverse the effects of mental illness and restore mental health to adolescent life.
As a PHN, you can adopt a variety of strategies to improve mental health services for young people. These strategies may include building partnerships with local community groups and associations to identify service gaps and develop training programs for vulnerable youth. You may also want to include refugee and migrant youth in planning and consultation. By engaging young people in the process, you can make sure the system is equitable. Involving youth and local services can also identify needs and create equity in service access. You may even need to develop targeted communication strategies to reach certain communities.
Moreover, prevention of childhood mental disorders is crucial. These disorders can “kindle” a cascade of events that makes them more likely to recur. Selective preventive strategies are crucial for prevention and treatment of these conditions. By supporting the development of a child’s cognitive control, physiologic reactivity, and self-regulation, these interventions will improve the chances of preventing mental disorders. In addition to these strategies, early intervention is essential to help a child develop a healthy mental life.
The Mayor’s Office for Community Mental Health (MCMH) is a multidisciplinary initiative that brings together various City agencies, foundations, and businesses to support the mental health of children. In addition, the organization’s MCMH team provides youth with academic tutoring, drug prevention education, safer sex education, and free enrollment in Chicago Park District sports programs. The youth-led office also works with criminal justice to provide services for their clients.
In a lockdown situation, youth mental health care was deemed a vital service. The shift towards telehealth was made because of the potential for infection from COVID. This strategy also helped prevent social distancing from the MCMH clinic. The telehealth initiative was a limited success in Ontario before the COVID-19 pandemic, with the focus on rural and remote communities. However, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a rapid shift to virtual care, as most in-person mental health services were suspended during the pandemic.
The key to effective youth mental health care is building a trusting relationship with service providers. While the physical appearance of youth mental health services is important in establishing a sense of safety and acceptance, many young people also want the service providers to be curious, develop rapport, and follow up. And, finally, they want their mental health professionals to know them as individuals, rather than merely a group of clients. For these reasons, it is imperative to build a relationship with youth mental health services.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in youth. It is estimated that ten-fold more people attempt suicide each year than attempt it. A gynecologist should be especially alert for the presence of depression in pregnant or parenting adolescents, or in adolescents with mood disorders. Other warning signs of depression are low school grades, poor sexual orientation, physical abuse, or substance and alcohol or drug use. An obstetrician or gynecologist may also recommend that parents or guardians secure guns and lethal drugs to protect their young patients.
Talking to a young person about a mental illness can be difficult. Many young people are reluctant to discuss their feelings and experience isolation when they talk about their health. To help alleviate this, family members should be sure that the child is heard and respected. Sitting down with them in a relaxed position with appropriate eye contact is a key factor in creating a supportive environment for the conversation. You can also ask for their opinion. If they have any questions or concerns, they can be directed to a health care provider or counselor.