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December 14th, 2017 marks 5 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Our thoughts are with the families of the 20 children and 6 adults who were shot to death on that Friday morning by a young man who had severe mental health problems and atypical preoccupation with violence.
In the Mental Health America’s annual “state of Mental Health Report”, is shows some alarming stats about our youth. In a five-year period, the rates of severe depression in youth have increased. Half of the screeners ages 11 to 17 say they often think about self-harm or suicide during the week. And over three fourths percent of youth with severe depression have not gotten the treatment they need.
You can help a youth in crisis by donating a car to Mental Health America through Donate-a-Car.
We have teamed up with Mental Health America to share some insights on how to help our youth in crisis:
- Provide a secure and safe environment for the youth
- In that safe place, give the opportunity for the youth to express feelings of frustration, fear, grief, sadness, trauma or anxiety and allow them to articulate them.
- Offer non-judgmental validation regarding their situation. For example: “It appears that you are very upset about all of this and that it is causing you a lot of anxiety.”
- Give the youth solid empathetic and compassionate care in the form of attention and time as well as continuing to help them articulate their feelings.
- Offer further support or a referral to a professional as needed.
Warning Signs that Something May Be Wrong with a Youth:
- Frequent disruptive behaviors
- Increase in anger or aggression
- Withdrawn and wanting to be alone
- Loss of appetite
- Wanting to be alone
- Nightmares and/or Sleeping habits changing
- Uncontrollable and frequent crying
- Numbness or lack of feeling
- Dramatic changes in school, activities and/or friends
- Lying, secret behavior and/or denial
Empathetic active listening is a skill that can be given as support and help a young person who may be in crisis.