During the pandemic, coping mechanisms like alcohol consumption skyrocketed and have remained significantly higher than pre-pandemic numbers. It’s not surprising that similar patterns appear with weight gain, and decreased physical activity. We’ve also seen an overall lack of chronic disease prevention. At the same time, many parents have begun to express concern over their children’s mental health as levels of hopelessness in young people continue to rise. As lives return to a level of normality, it’s important to offer teens access to mental health support that’s targeted to their needs.
In our community the majority of hospitalizations during the omicron surge in adolescents were due to behavioral health concerns, reports Dr. Christina Canody of BayCare Health Systems. Many of the adolescent intakes she has seen were for suicidal ideation and severe anxiety attacks, with numbers increasing monthly.
Natasha Pierre, Dean of Mental Health at the Institute for Leadership and Lifelong Learning International and member of Cove Behavioral Health’s Advisory Board, says “… the fatigue that adults are experiencing, is also felt by our children, yet they lack the life experience and the vocabulary to articulate exactly what they’re feeling,”
- Chronic headaches
- Chronic abdominal pain
- Behavioral problems
A fall 2021 study found that only half of parents were confident that they could tell the signs of teenage depression or general mental health concerns and almost half thought their child would not be comfortable talking to them about their mental health. While signs of mental illness can look different, anxiety can take the form of nausea and sleep disturbances. Feeling sad, hopeless, worthless, apathetic, or not feeling pleasure in usually enjoyable activities that last for 2 weeks or more can be a sign of depression.
A recent article revealed that only 4 out of 100 psychologists specialize in children and that Florida has one of the lowest per capita mental health expenditures in the country. To combat this, DeSantis allocated more funding to mental health in the state’s budget last summer, giving $137.6 million to community-based services and $8 million to schools, hoping to add a mental health therapist to over 100 schools.
Experts say early, often, and honest conversations are best. Clarifying troubling statements like “I don’t want to be here anymore,” is important. Teens often express suicidal thoughts passively rather than directly and it’s a myth that asking about self-harm or suicide will put ideas into someone’s head. Over 75 percent of teens said that their mental health challenges started before 18, but only half of the parents sought help, and nearly three-quarters of teens who didn’t receive help wished that they did. Simply put, adolescents want support and post-pandemic care may have to work a little harder to listen to their needs.
Cove provides comprehensive mental health services with a focus on diagnosis of emerging or existing substance abuse and addiction disorders as well as all mental health issues for teens and adults. While accessing care with Cove, youth and their families are able to develop the tools they need to strengthen and maintain their behavioral health. If you have a young person or family member that you are concerned about, contact us today at www.covebh.org or call us 813-384-4000.