Check out the Family Brain Podcast Episode where Open Parachute founder Dr Hayley Watson explores youth mental health and gives accessible tips for parents, teachers and schools!
We would like to think that it’s rare for youth to harm themselves, but unfortunately it is a very common behaviour pattern in teens, and one that we don’t always know is happening. It can take many forms, from typical “self-harm,” to risky drinking, drugs, and sexual behaviour, to holding themselves back from reaching their potential in academics, sports or creative pursuits. All of these are forms of self-destructive cycles, and many teens will go through a version of this at some point in their growth.
It can be a huge challenge for parents and teachers when there are things we want and need teenagers to do, and they simply will not do them. It is very common for teenagers to resist completing homework or cleaning up after themselves, to engage in risky or reckless behaviour, and to be rude to their family and classmates.
It’s easy to feel completely helpless (and even enraged) by the behaviour of teenagers. If this sounds like you sometimes (or even all the time!) don’t worry, you’re not alone!!
I think we can safely say that child mental health struggle and suicide are high up on the list of every parent’s worst nightmare. And in today’s world, this particular form of tragedy seems to loom scarily on the horizon with more and more urgency.
Luckily there are an increasing number of resources available – but how are parents to know which ones to choose? How can they be sure they are covering all the bases?
The best way to answer this question is by developing a clear and deep understanding of where youth mental health issues originate from, and what REALLY causes youth suicide.
Many teachers don’t feel equipped to manage mental health in their classrooms - but they are the best possible resource for their students.
With the rising rates of youth suicide, self-harm, and depression it can feel like a minefield that is best avoided at all costs.
Teachers often worry that they will say the wrong thing, or trigger students with a comment that makes them even more upset, and so they avoid bringing up the issue of mental health with their students altogether.
Educators are some of the most overworked individuals in the workforce today. A recent study shows that teachers work more overtime than any other profession, coming in at an average of 13 hours per day, which is 10 times more than legal professionals.
Teachers also report that many of the hours of overtime they work are not directly related to helping their students, which provides even more of a drain on morale.
Educators also experience inherent burdens in their role even within their regular hours. Research shows that teachers make an average of 1,500 decisions per day, through constant questions from students as well as regular requests from school administration and parents.
As a teacher it’s incredibly difficult to address bullying in the classroom - especially in it’s more subtle forms. You can’t be there every time a mean comment is made, and you can’t force students to include each other at lunchtime or on social media. But there are some simple things you CAN do that make a huge difference for your students.
ONE OF THE BIG MYTHS ABOUT BULLYING IS THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE BULLY IS THE ONE WITH ALL THE POWER.
Because of this myth, kids and teens who are victimised usually think there is nothing they can do until the bullying stops. But they couldn’t be more wrong. And as a teacher, you can help your students figure this out faster than they ever could on their own.
There are a number of reasons why so many teenagers experience body image struggles, one of which is our cultural relationship to emotions. When we feel uncomfortable feelings like sadness or loneliness or rejection, we don’t have the resources for relating to or soothing these feelings, so we look for ways avoid them by distracting ourselves with something that makes us FEEL BETTER IN THE MOMENT.
It’s easy to forget how sad we are when we’re eating, drinking, working out, buying clothes, dieting, or looking on social media.
We live in a world where everything is rapidly advancing. It seems that every day there is something new that has been invented with the sole purpose of making our lives simpler and easier. And it’s not only technology that is moving at an accelerated rate – there are also consistent advances in healing, therapy, and self-care. Everywhere you turn there are new tips for implementing mindfulness at home, and new interventions that are being introduced in schools.
So why is it that kids these days seem to be able to tolerate LESS and have MORE negative reactions to the world around them? Why are there so many young people diagnosed with anxiety and depression? Why are teen suicide rates continually rising??
There are many factors that play into this, but one major issue that is often overlooked is that the entire foundation of our current culture actually DISCOURAGES resilience.
Self-esteem is a term that has been used a lot in the past few decades. By now we all know that it’s something we SHOULD be boosting in children, but what’s less clear is HOW.
We’ve heard that we should encourage young people with positive reinforcement and tell them/show them we care about them, but how do we keep them feeling good about themselves when they reach that age where they stop listening to a word we say?? (which these days is getting younger and younger!)
What happens when they’re getting their information online from sources we can’t control, when they’re glued to social media full of unrealistic images they can never live up to, and when they are spending all their time with people who might not treat them very well? What do we do then??