“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.
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:
- Don’t let your teen’s depression or anxiety snowball
- Listen – even when your teen is not talking
- Never shrug off threats of suicide as typical teenage melodrama
- Seek professional help right away
- Share your feelings
- Encourage your teen not to isolate himself or herself from family and friends
- Recommend exercise
- Urge your teen not to demand too much of himself or herself
- Remind your teen who is undergoing treatment not to expect immediate results
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol and other drugs.
- Show you’re paying attention and you’ll discourage risky behaviors.
- Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking and drug use.
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:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – HealthyChildren.org: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/Pages/default.aspx
- National Association for Children of Addiction: https://nacoa.org/
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): https://www.samhsa.gov/
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): https://nami.org/home
- Youth.gov: (formerly FindYouthInfo.gov) was created by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP)
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; 888-333-2377; Provides referrals to support groups, mental health professionals, resources on loss and suicide prevention information.
Local Resources include, but are not limited to:
- NAMI Lee – www.namilee.org
- Lee Health: www.leehealth.org/our-services/behavioral-health
- SalusCare: www.saluscareflorida.org
- Elite DNA: www.elitedna.us
- The Center for Progress and Excellence: www.progressandexcellence.com
- 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.