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How parents can deal with the ongoing teen mental health crisis

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that three out of five teenage girls feel constantly sad or hopeless. This is the latest problem trending in an ongoing countrywide Mental health crisis for adolescents.

Ishika Vij’s anxiety started when she was just 12 years old. After the pressure of school work increases, Ishika develops an eating disorder.

“Being able to control what I looked like versus, I thought, you know, I’m not worthy enough or smart enough. So I was like, maybe I can be pretty enough or I can, you know, follow these rules, like, social The media set it up,” she said.

Ishika’s father Sumit Vij says his daughter’s generation is “different”.

“Their ability to deal with things is different. They are resilient, but I think they are exposed to a lot more than we thought before,” says Sumit Vij.

Lisa DamourA clinical psychologist and mother of two says one way parents deal with this crisis is to limit their children’s access to social media.

“Girls tend to withdraw into themselves when they’re in trouble, whereas boys tend to act out when they’re in trouble,” she says.

Damour said that when teenagers are in crisis, parents should, “approach it from the perspective of what we call emotion regulation.”

“You can’t get rid of suffering. You can’t stop it from coming. But you can control it,” he said. “Getting feelings out, as teenagers say, is part of how they get relief.”

Ishika’s parents did not have that outlet. He tried to ask for help, but his pleas went unheeded. It was only when he had suicidal thoughts and a therapist told his family that he would die if he didn’t get the right help that they began to understand.

“A lot of parents have the attitude of not my kid,” she explained. “Like, my kid, he’s not like your kids, or my kid is better.”

Sumit Vij says it can be easy for parents to miss the signs.

“It’s hidden in plain sight, but you don’t see it,” he said. “When you look back, you see the signs and you can say, ‘Hey, they’re all there.’ But when we were going through it, we didn’t realize it.”

Experts say parents should watch for sudden drops in grades, self-isolation, low mood and changes in eating or sleeping habits.

Damore says what teenagers need is “warmth and structure.”

“It’s hard sometimes with teenagers. But I think the key for teenagers is to remember that it’s their job and it’s not personal,” he added.

After more than six months in a partial hospitalization program that included individual and group therapy and her eating monitored, Ishika is in recovery. Her family now talks openly about mental health and Ishika is an advocate for mental health services for teenagers

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also chat with 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline here.

For more information about mental health care resources and support, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline can be contacted Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or by email at info@ can nami.org

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Norah O’Donnell

Norah O'Donnell

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