When this article came across our desk - we knew we had to rearrange our blog schedule to address this incredibly disturbing and heartbreaking report done by the CDC. This NBC article shares that the CDC does a yearly Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the results from 2021 are startling to say the least. While the report is vast, it is the data about how badly girls are struggling stopped us in our tracks.
This survey was sent to 17,232 U.S. high school students shows an increase in sexual attacks, traumatic experiences, suicide ideation, and much more for teenage girls. Nearly 3 in 5 teenage girls said that they felt "persistently sad or hopeless." According to NBC this is the highest rate in a decade. Thirty percent of the teenage girls surveyed said that they seriously considered dying by suicide which is a number that has risen nearly 60% in the last 10 years.
As a part of our community you know that children are struggling across the board. The pandemic has spurred a mental health epidemic that is only getting worse. However, according to the report girls have been disproportionately negatively impacted and this is a trend that was growing before the pandemic.
If you have a teenage daughter at home, like many of our staff members do - breathe. We know this is very difficult to read but even by reading a blog like this you are taking action to help your daughter. It is so important that you acknowledge, accept, and talk about her mental health in a way that helps her understand you are someone she can turn to.
For many, mental health is difficult to talk about. If you want to bring this topic up to your daughter but do not know where to start we have gathered 3 of our most popular resources that can help you springboard this conversation. We know this could an awkward conversation for both you and your daughter but this is so important - and clearly cannot wait.
1. How Do I Talk to my Child about Suicide tip sheet Not long ago we got a call from a mom who heard that her child had been talking about taking their life. She said that didn't really sound like her child, who was a happy kid, but still she worried. We understood her concern and her Family Support Partner (FSP) was able to talk her through how to have that conversation and get them help. But we've learned that if one parent has a concern many other families across the state are likely to have the same worry? So, our team reached out to experts across the state and together we created, "How do I talk to my child about suicide?"
One of the experts we worked with shared; "We never really know what's going on with kids unless we ask. If we notice a child limping, we might ask if they got hurt or are in pain. From there, we can make a decision about how best to get them treatment. The same is true when we notice a child in emotional distress. Unless we ask if they're having thoughts of suicide, we may never know and may not get them to the right resources for help." - Rose Milani, Program Director, Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Project. If you are concerned about your daughter, you are probably also overwhelmed with what to do and how to help. This short and simple tip sheet can give you conversation tips and starters and a clearly defined "next step." This can be very helpful for someone who is already in a stressful situation. It also details several valuable supports that are there for your child and for you.
2. Emotional Safety Plan A person is their least rational when things are very stressful. At the moment where tensions are high, it is hard to think "Okay, I am stressed right now, what can I do to calm down?" That is where the Emotional Safety Plan comes into play.
This 100% customizable resource allows your daughter to take a moment to check in with herself and think about what helps her relax in stressful moments. It also is a pretty low point of entry for you to start with your conversation. Simply print out the Emotional Safety Plan (or if you're like us, and your printer only works when it wants to, grab a piece of paper and open the Emotional Safety Plan on your computer) and fill one out with your daughter. It may even be a good idea to make it a family activity so she doesn't feel so singled out.
Tell her that you care about her mental health and you want to start that dialogue in your house and you think this would be a good first activity. We know she may roll her eyes and spend the entire time trying not to look at her phone but just by talking about mental health you could be helping to alleviate some of the challenges she has going on.
3. Support Groups Sometimes you just need someone to bounce ideas off of - especially for something this serious. We know that the words "Support Group" may sound a little bit outdated to you but ours are not stuffy or awkward. They are designed by parents for parents and are laidback because we know the last thing a parent needs is another unhelpful obligation.
If you want to start this conversation with your daughter but are not sure how or what to say consider joining one of our upcoming Support Groups. These empowering groups are run by parents and are the perfect place to get helpful insight from others who get it. They know what it's like to be concerned about your child and they can help you make a game plan for how to talk to your daughter.
Our support groups are offered throughout the week - click here to find more information about the one that fits the best into your schedule.
Be sure to check out the rest of this NBC article which does a great job explaining the CDC's data. We think the part about red flags to lookout for at the bottom of the article is especially helpful.