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During this time of unknowns, are we forgetting to check in on our teenagers? Do we sometimes think, “they have their video games and phones” and don’t bother to check in on them anymore than that? I have many friends with teenagers who share how self-sufficient their teenagers have become in the midst of COVID-19. Sure they sleep in too long, stay up too late, and may not be eating as healthy of a diet, but overall they appear to be happy and healthy. However, is that truly the case for our teenagers?

A recent study conducted by the National 4-H Council shared startling statistics. Of the 1,500 youth who were polled, 7 out of 10 identified they are struggling with their mental health. One key indicator found that teens report more pressure to hide their feelings than to do drugs. The Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the National 4-H Council was published by multiple outlets including HuffPost. For more detailed statistics, the 4-H National page provides more.

While concerns of suicide are on the rise in our youth already, this global pandemic has increased the importance for us to check in with our youth to see how they are feeling. A statistic from the Youth Mental Health First Aid course shares that if a youth feels they have one trusted adult they can seek out to share feeling with, it decreases their chance of suicide drastically.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital has a campaign called On Our Sleeves that offers a place to begin a conversation. Resources are available to help parents, educators, and healthcare providers talk with youth about mental health. Honest and open conversations allow young people to share openly and honestly with you, a trusted adult.  This helps them so they don’t feel like the 65% of youth that are “dealing with it on their own”.

on our sleeves

Our youth are resilient, but they need your help to navigate these difficult years. Whether it is from a parent, guardian, or family friend, our youth need to have advocates when it comes to their own mental health. What are you waiting for? Invite that teen you know out to lunch (virtually or in-person!) and let them know how much you love and care for them.

References:

National 4-H Council. (2020). https://4-h.Org/about/Research/#!Healthy-Living. https://4-h.org/about/research/#!healthy-living

Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (2020). Nationwide Children’s Hospital. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/giving/on-our-sleeves

Mental Health First Aid. (2020). Mental Health First Aid. https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

Written by: Bridget Britton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Carroll County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

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