Local news outlets are reporting an increase in suicide completions by young people. Two contributing factors for this alarming increase are that more children (as early as eight years old), teens, and young adults are suffering from anxiety and depression. Other youth and young adults are engaging in self-harming behaviors such as cutting, plucking, eating disorders, sexual promiscuity and/or binge drinking. When we hear those stories our hearts break, but most of us do not know what to do to help alleviate the problem.
Is there currently someone in your life suffering from mental health issues?
If so, there is hope for both the person you love, as well as yourself. Mental health problems are common, with a variety of treatments options available. Recovery is possible.
Here are some resources or options that may help you or a loved one:
- The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
- The Crisis Text Line ™ Text START to 741-741 http://www.crisistextline.org/
- Talk to the young people in your life about how they are feeling, the stress they may be facing, or how they can cope when life seems tough. These are not easy conversations to begin. Creating Community Solutions has created Text, Talk, Act can help you start this conversation. Text START to 89800 anytime now through December 2016 at no cost (standard text messaging rates apply). This conversation also works well for friends and peers. Across the country, young people are having a nationwide conversation on mental health and how to help a friend in need. Through text messaging, small groups receive discussion questions that help lead them through conversations about mental health.
- Walk with your loved one through this battle. For some, their fight may be short lived as they work through certain situations. For others, the fight may be a life-long one. But there is hope. There are many life-changing ways to fight the battle against mental illness, such as counseling, therapy, and medication. Start with your family physician. Call your local mental health office. If your loved one had cancer, asthma, or strep throat, you would help them get the treatment they need to get better. Please treat mental illness in the same way.
- Take a Mental Health First Aid ® or Youth Mental Health First Aid ® course. These 8-hour classes, led by certified instructors, teach us more about mental illness and how to respond in a situation where a person is battling a mental illness. The Mental Health First Aid ® website tells us: “Because sometimes people don’t know how to ask for help. Because there is a suicide every 12.8 minutes. And because we can all be more aware and more informed.”
Every step you take towards learning more, sharing more, and loving more can help a young person and his/her family. Recognize that it’s hard for many people to talk about their private thoughts and feelings. When one is mentally ill, the voices in their heads can be overwhelming. Be strong and courageous, and everyone involved will become stronger because of your willingness to try.