Mental Health Matters
The continuing COVID pandemic has impacted all of our lives, and MYFS continues to offer a variety of programs and services to residents as we navigate this together.
Families with school-aged children are at particular risk to experience high levels of stress, with the impact of the health crisis and the health restrictions being experienced fully in their daily lives. Stressors that were present for youth and families prior to the pandemic continue to exist, and in some cases are further exacerbated by the unpredictable nature and long duration of this public health crisis. As a matter of mental health and overall wellness, it is imperative that our community rallies to this challenge - because MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS!
MYFS will therefore be launching an extended education and awareness campaign that we will call “Mental Health Matters”. We will utilize our FB page and Town Web page as the means to share information and resources to help our adult and youth community members. We will include as much information as we can around a variety of parent and youth issues. More than just sharing information, we will also continue to work in collaboration with our youth programs to empower and enable our youth to help and support themselves. We will continue to work in collaboration with the Madison Public School Schools and with Madison parents to provide virtual opportunities for more discussion and support related to mental health.
For Madison youth and parents, we are here and available for free and confidential consultation. Residents may contact us at 203-245-5645 or visit here: www.madisonyouthservices.org. We will continue to update our “Mental Health Matters” webpage with more information and resources.
Help is available 24/7:
Immediate life-threatening emergencies: Dial 911
Crisis Services for youth/families: Dial 211 follow phone prompts to EMPS (Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services)
Helplines for Teens: 1-800-273-TALK ( 800-273-8255 ) or Crisis text line: Text "ct" to 741741
Online resources available at PreventSuicideCT.org
Mental Health Matters for Young Adults
There are some very unique challenges for young adults and their families, some of which are more magnified with the COVID health crisis. For young people age 18 – 25 years old, this period of time is a transitional one. While attending college is common, their individual experiences of college may vary widely. There are also young adults who are forging a path through this time that may feel atypical from their peers if they are not engaged in some form of ongoing education or training. The common denominator for all young adults is change. As this phase of life is generally understood as stressful we may be prone to overlook the intensity and complexity of the issues facing them. Concerns and struggles include worries over large college debt, substance abuse, relational issues, and pressure to define a career path. All magnified by a conflicted social culture, troubled economy and shifting job market. Oh, and now there’s COVID…
Awareness to the issues that impact young adults is critical, as in many cases they may be less inclined to ask for help and also may find it easier to mask any problems. Young adults may therefore lack a consistent support system during this crucial time period.
MYFS is able to provide free and confidential consultation to Madison residents for any questions and concerns related to social/emotional well-being, and we can provide mental health services to youth up to age 21. For young adults that we can not serve directly, we can often help as an initial support and guide to connect with help. For more information please visit our website at madisonyouthservices.org. Check out a few links for more information and resources as well.
Mental health issues on the rise for adolescents and young adults:
- American Journal of Managed Care: Mental Health Issues On the Rise Among Adolescents, Young Adults
- Psychology Today: We Already Had a Mental Health Epidemic Among Young People
Signs to Watch For:
- Psychology Today: 5 Signs a Young Adult May Be Struggling
- Mental Health America: Mental Illness And The Family: Recognizing Warning Signs And How To Cope
How You Can Help:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Teens & Young Adults
Grief and Loss
Teens & Grief by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D (PDF)
Will My Child Be Okay? Guiding Your Child Through Grief
by James P. Emswiler, M.A., M.Ed, Mary Ann Emswiler, M.A., M.P.S
SchoolFamily.com: Help Your Child Deal With Grief
The Cove: FAQs about children and grieving
The Dougy Center: How to help a grieving teen
How to Tell if My Child is in Distress:
All tweens & teens crave more personal space and independence from parents. Part of natural adolescent development means your child may become moody, irritable, and push you away at times. You know your child best. You know what their good days and bad days look like. You know their usual patterns and their common reactions to frustration and challenges.
Trust your instincts! If something feels off, talk to them about it. If your child is not bouncing back after a few days or you see several changes in their demeanor, you child may be in distress. Some common signs of distress in teens include
- Changes in eating & sleep habits
- Increased irritability, anxiousness, and/or sadness
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and activities
- Saying they feel hopeless or in so much pain and that things will not improve
- Thinking about or engaging in self harm such as cutting or scratching
- Finding texts, social media posts, or other messages where your child expresses their struggles
Talking Points for Parents: Tips to Initiate Conversations with your Kids
- Subtly increase opportunities to be with them, invite then to watch tv or go out with you.
- Start with empathy. Ok to validate feelings even if you may not fully relate. Make time and space for a “judgement-free zone.”
- Model openness & honesty. Let you child know that the unexpected situations are hard for adults too.
- Be as patient as possible and ready to engage on their terms, as kids may be more comfortable talking while engaged in another activity such as a car ride or walk.
- Give kids some language and guidance on how to express their concern to friends that are struggling such as “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a tough time right now” rather than “are you ok?” or asking for information.