My child that struggles with suicidal thoughts, self harm, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, or eating disorders
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people.
- Non-suicidal self-injury has been found to occur in 5 to 19% of middle and high school students in the US
- The average median age of onset for anxiety disorders is age 11 and for eating disorders is age 15
- In 2013, 2.8 million kids ages 12-17 experienced at least one major depressive episode
- In 2013, over 30% of adolescents who experienced depression that year also reported using illicit drugs
Mental Health First Aid USA: For Adults Assisting Young People. 1st ed. Washington DC: National Council for Behavioral Health, 2016. Print.
The facts don't lie. Many young adults deal with mental health issues. It's not just something our kids can get over. They must be loved despite their feelings of loneliness, sadness, and worthlesness.
Our staff is trained to use A.L.G.E.E. when we come across a student that we think is experiencing symptoms of a mental illness. We believe it would be helpful for you as parents to use the action plan too:
Action A: Assess for risk of suicide or harm
Cries for help might include your child harming themselves, having a panic attack, or disturbing others with their behavior
Action L: Listen nonjudgmentally
Before you talk, listen to what your child has to say. They want an empathetic listener before hearing you give helpful options. Also, put down any judgments you have so you can actively listen.
Action G: Give reassurance and information
Let your child know how loved they are by you and by God. Don't give advice as to what they should do, but give options that provide hope for your child.
Action E: Encourage appropriate professional help
We suggest your child first sees their primary care doctor before they see a counselor. Here are two reasons why: 1) Doctors can differentiate between mental problems and physical problems (ex. heart attack v panic attack) and 2) The cultural stigma around therapy. However, if their doctor recommends a therapist, we HIGHLY encourage it and will do all we can to let them know they are not weird because they are seeing a therapist. We also encourage Christian counseling and our North Coast Counseling Center might be perfect for your child.
Action E: Encourage self-help and other support strategies
Getting involved in other support groups are very important. This could mean a church small group, a mentorship, a school club, etc. Self-care is key as well. Learning how to care for themselves through reading, exercising, journaling, sleeping, etc is all important too.
Adapted from: Mental Health First Aid USA: For Adults Assisting Young People. 1st ed. Washington DC: National Council for Behavioral Health, 2016.