(WHTM) — It’s no secret that the recent news about teens and mental health is not good right now. A recent CDC survey shows the percentage of high school students who felt persistently sad or hopeless increased fairly dramatically over the past decade.
“These findings, unfortunately, aren’t surprising,” said licensed psychologist Dr. Charmain Jackman. “I think what is surprising is the high increase we’ve seen, really as a result of the pandemic.”
Jackman has 25 years of experience in child and adolescent mental health. She says the pandemic made things harder for kids in middle and high school. She also says social media is not helping. While a child struggle, they may see a highlight reel of another student’s life and wonder why they can’t keep up or why their life doesn’t seem as easy.
Experts are noticing increases in anxiety and depression for both middle and high schoolers. Perhaps more alarming, they also saw a significant increase in the percentage of youth who seriously considered suicide, made a suicide plan, and attempted suicide.
Parents know it’s important to check in with their kids, but it may be hard to do in a way that will actually encourage your child to open up. A new Ad Council campaign called Sound it Out Together gives parents advice and tips in addition to conversation starters. The goal is to make those talks easier for both generations.
“As you have these conversations with your child, you want to make sure you’re really listening and tuning in,” Jackman said. “You want to make sure you have the space and time to have a great conversation. They are hard conversations to have on the rush.”
Jackman said it also shouldn’t be just one conversation, but a series of check-ins.