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“My Young Adult Needs Help: How to navigate when signs of mental health services are needed”
On Monday, November 2, Jayme Hodges, MSW, LCSW-QS, Director of the Behavioral Health Center at Lee Health discussed how to navigate when signs of mental health services are needed for young adults.

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Mental Health by the Numbers
NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness

  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34
  • Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth

Annual prevalence of serious thoughts of suicide, by U.S. demographic group:

  • 4.3% of all adults
  • 11.0% of young adults aged 18-25
  • 17.2% of high school students
  • 47.7% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students
  • 16.5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people) 50.6% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016
  • The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years
  • High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers

What parents need to know about caring for and intervening for their young adult child
It is important to remember that:

  • It is normal for kids to feel unhappy at some point in their teenage years
  • Struggles between parents and teens are normal
  • Teens are trying to establish independence and often struggle for a sense of control
  • Parents also struggle with letting go and allowing more independence
  • Teen stress can often arise out of a feeling of failing to live up to parental expectations
    Sadness can become a symptom of a bigger issue

As a parent you can:

  • Support independence
  • Create and maintain structure
  • Be an active listener to what is said and not said
  • If help is needed – help them get the help that is needed

10 Things Parents Can Do to Prevent Suicide:

  1. Don’t let your teen’s depression or anxiety snowball
  2. Listen – even when your teen is not talking
  3. Never shrug off threats of suicide as typical teenage melodrama
  4. Seek professional help right away
  5. Share your feelings
  6. Encourage your teen not to isolate himself or herself from family and friends
  7. Recommend exercise
  8. Urge your teen not to demand too much of himself or herself
  9. Remind your teen who is undergoing treatment not to expect immediate results
  10. If you keep guns at home, store them safely or move all firearms elsewhere until the crisis has passed.

Signs it’s time to intervene and seek help
Behaviors and Symptoms to watch for:

  • Dropping grades
  • Using or increasing use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping patterns, including weight gain or loss
  • An increase in physical complaints
  • Communicating hopelessness or being fixated on past failures

If the following symptoms have lasted for at least 2 weeks or more:

  • Sad mood
  • Hopeless, helpless, worthless, or guilty feelings
  • Loss of pleasure in things you usually enjoy
  • Sleep problems
  • Eating problems
  • Low energy, extreme tiredness, lack of concentration
  • Headaches, stomach aches, or body aches that do not respond to treatment

HealthyChildren.org: Mental Health “Red Flags” Parents Should Be Alert For:

  • Excessive sleeping, beyond usual teenage fatigue, which could indicate depression or substance abuse; difficulty in sleeping, insomnia, and other sleep disorders
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Abandonment or loss of interest in favorite pastimes
  • Unexpected and dramatic decline in academic performance
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite, which could indicate an eating disorder
  • Personality shifts and changes, such as aggressiveness and excess anger that are sharply out of character and could indicate psychological, drug, or sexual problems

 

Tips on how to talk with your young adult child and guide them through their mental health care
AMHSA: 5 Goals When Talking to Kids about Alcohol and Other Drugs
Research suggests that one of the most important factors in healthy child development is a strong, open relationship with a parent. It is important to start talking to your children about alcohol and other drugs before they are exposed to them.

  1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking and other drug misuse. Over 80% of young people ages 10–18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision whether to drink.
  2. Show you care about your child’s health, wellness, and success. Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side.
  3. Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol and other drugs.
  4. Show you’re paying attention and you’ll discourage risky behaviors.
  5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking and drug use.

 

RESOURCES

What options and resources are available nationally and in the Southwest Florida region, at Lee Health and with our local partners?

National Resources include, but are not limited to:

Local Resources include, but are not limited to:

Crisis Numbers:

  • 911 Emergency
  • SalusCare: (239) 275-4242
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Florida Abuse Hotline: 800-962-2873
  • National Hopeline Network: 800-442-4673 (HOPE)
  • Crisis Text Line: Text 741741
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 Press 1 / Text 838255

 

QUESTIONS FROM VIEWERS
Q: The pandemic has greatly impacted our youth and the recent increase in cases can cause an increase in anxiety. Any tips for helping youth navigate these ongoing changes, especially when things are so uncertain?
A: Change, uncertainty, fear and worry have been constant since mid-March. The pandemic is causing a lot of anxiety and worry, and there’s no right or wrong way to deal with a pandemic, so this is all new. With young adults, it’s important to create and maintain structure. Not having the structure of in-person school could be challenging, for example. Interacting virtually isn’t the same as being together person, as well. Plus, youth might see parents and adults’ anxiety, that they will absorb. Being able to talk about it, putting it all in the open, and putting a name to it makes it easier to deal with.

Q: What can I do if my teenage child is exhibiting these signs and showing no interest in being proactive about their mental health – i.e. avoiding/skipping appointments with their therapist & psychiatrist?
A: If they are under 18, you can connect with the caregiver. Sit them down and talk with them, or ask another family and friend who they have a good connection with. When they are over 18, they can make their own decisions because they are considered an adult. Treat them as you would an adult. Talk about your concerns with what you’re seeing. If they become a danger to themself or others, utilize the crisis lines.

Q: How do you recommend talking to a young adult that is showing signs of a crisis?
A: Open that door and have dialogue and communication. It’s also very important to let them know you’re not here to criticize, which can become an obstacle or barrier to conversation. Put their safety first.

 

About Kids’ Minds Matter

The goal of Kids’ Minds Matter is to raise awareness about the need for pediatric mental and behavioral health care services and to raise the funds required to make these services available in the region through Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and Lee Health. An estimated 46,000 Southwest Florida children are impacted by mental and behavioral health disorders like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, psychosis, substance abuse, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. As part of the region’s strategic solution to the children’s mental and behavioral health epidemic in Southwest Florida, Kids’ Minds Matter is dedicated to fostering partnerships that support existing services, identifying and filling gaps in the continuum of care, and innovating new treatments.

Philanthropic support for Kids’ Minds Matter has allowed Lee Health and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida to: implement a tiered model of care that clinically aligns community, inpatient and outpatient care; hire additional psychiatrists, child advocates and other mental health professionals; offer Mental Health First Aid training to local pediatricians, emergency service providers and others who work directly with children; renovate an outpatient center in Fort Myers where a child’s needs can be addressed in a therapeutic setting; and launch a first-of-its-kind Pediatric Digital Cognitive Behavioral Health diagnostic and treatment protocols interlaced with Tele-Psychology support to treat anxiety, depression and trauma. Most recently, Kids’ Minds Matter introduced mental health care navigators into Lee and Collier County schools who will help families find resources and care to address their child’s mental healthcare needs.

The “Mental Health Mondays” segments are a public forum, designed for open discussions that benefit a large audience, and to provide real-time resources and advice from pediatric mental health professionals and advocates. The information shared on this platform is intended for general public consumption and not intended for individual treatment. The views, advice, and resources shared by each guest speaker are solely their own and are not endorsed by Lee Health, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and Kids’ Minds Matter. Kids’ Minds Matter is dedicated to raising awareness and essential funding to enhance pediatric mental & behavioral health programs, services and access to care in Southwest Florida. To learn more about Kids’ Minds Matter, visit KidsMindsMatter.com.

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