Many young people experience mental health challenges, and these often go hand in hand with other social or economic disadvantages. These resources will help you start a conversation with your teen about mental wellness.
The youth mental health crisis now occurring has been 15 years in the making, says Duncan Young. It has been supercharged by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.
Teens can become isolated as a result of being bullied, a lack of self-esteem, family problems and more. This can lead to a variety of mental health symptoms, including feelings of loneliness or hopelessness, low self-esteem, depression and suicidal thoughts. It can also cause substance abuse, which is very common among teens.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many youth felt socially isolated because of school closures and physical distancing practices. These mitigation measures helped prevent the spread of the virus but prevented kids and teens from seeing their friends, teachers and peers in person.
This isolation can have devastating effects on a young person’s mental health, especially when they are going through hormone shifts. This is why Charlie Health prioritizes a care model that fosters community and connection. Our digital therapy platform, MOST, allows users to access high-quality mental health support in a safe and engaging space. This is just one way that we are working to help improve youth health and wellness in New York City.
Stigma is the negative, discriminatory perceptions people have about mental health disorders and those who live with them. It can prevent people from seeking help or opening up about their struggles, especially if they are surrounded by family and friends who make disparaging remarks about their experiences. It is important to be aware of stigma and address it with education and advocacy.
A recent study found that when adolescents were confronted with their own symptoms or a friend’s disclosure of mental illness, higher levels of stigma were associated with lower support-seeking from parents and professionals. The effect was moderated by threat and trust. The researchers also found that self-stigma mediated the relationship between threat and support-seeking. However, the study was underpowered and results should be interpreted cautiously. Ultimately, future investments in stigma reduction should prioritize conditions that have been overlooked in the literature, incorporate rigorous evaluation, and address stigma at multiple ecological levels for a sustainable response.
Adverse childhood experiences
A child may suffer a variety of traumas in their childhood. These include emotional and physical abuse, neglect, household dysfunction like mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse and incarceration of family members. These experiences can cause toxic stress, which affects a child’s brain and body over time. This can lead to a variety of health problems in adulthood, including mental health issues.
ACEs can be prevented by providing children with the right support and services. This includes access to a doctor and treatment for mental health issues. It also means addressing the root causes of adversity, such as poverty and racism. ACEs are also linked to poor physical health, such as heart disease and diabetes. Having four or more ACEs increases the risk of depression, obesity and chronic diseases, such as cancer and emphysema. This link is largely due to a person’s unhealthy coping strategies, such as over-eating and heavy drinking, which lead to long-term damage to the body.
When it comes to youth mental health, prevention is key. This includes teaching parents, siblings, family and community members how to recognize and respond to adolescent mental health challenges, especially those that can lead to crisis situations. It also involves helping teachers, school staff, neighbors, and health and human services workers know how to help their students.
A comprehensive approach to youth mental health includes training on how to identify and support youth with a mental illness, providing education and outreach to vulnerable adolescents, and creating opportunities for young people to connect with each other. This also involves promoting the use of digital tools that provide peer support and offer safe spaces to connect with others.
These include MOST, which has been developed with young people and is available free at participating youth mental health services. It provides access to online therapy content, supports and tools that can help overcome life’s toughest moments. MOST is designed to be engaging, fun and judgement-free.