Experts address youth mental health crisis
MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) - Depression among teenagers is at an all-time high. With the many physical, emotional, psychological, and social challenges that teens face today, an increase in self-doubt and worthlessness has emerged.
“It’s something that I see on a day-to-day basis. It’s something that as a unit here with Central Michigan University we are working really hard to address,” said Dr. Abishek Bala, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at CMU.
Bala said CMU is working hard to address the spike in depression among youth, adding that we are currently in a mental health crisis.
“100%, I think we are,” Bala said.
The crisis is most heavily affecting teens.
“More kids showing up to the emergency rooms with issues concerning suicide and self-harm,” Bala said.
Some experts point to more open discussions around mental health and removing the stigma to seek help as part of the reason we have seen numbers rise.
“We are getting better at recognizing mental health and acknowledging it. Pediatricians and doctors’ offices are doing more depression screening at each appointment, so that has been really helpful,” said Victoria Kwater, the owner of Tri-County Mental Health.
However, it’s not just health officials. School districts have begun to see the need to have resources available for students who may be struggling mentally.
The CDC found that more than 1 in 3 high school students has experienced poor mental health in recent years.
“We now have social emotional counselors in every building in our district. We have programs such as mindfulness, we have four therapy dogs that travel throughout our district to provide support in the schools which has been really amazing,” said Courtney Russel, the student support counselor at Mt. Pleasant Middle School.
“We provide mental health services to the students to the staff to the families; individually, in a group setting, and then also we work on a systems level to help the school be more responsive to mental health needs,” said Stacey Smyczynski, a mental health practitioner for Saginaw ISD.
Parents are encouraged to watch for signs in their children, including lack of motivation, increased irritability, and a decline in grades.
Anyone experiencing depression is encouraged to call the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988.
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