The United States’ top experts in pediatric health say the mental health crisis among children has become a national emergency.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association Issued a joint declaration this week to warn of “soaring rates of mental health challenges” among children, teens and their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening a crisis that had already existed.
“Rates of childhood mental health concerns and suicide rose steadily between 2010 and 2020 and by 2018 suicide was the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24,” According to the organizations. “The pandemic has intensified this crisis: Across the country we have witnessed dramatic increases in Emergency Department visits for all mental health emergencies including suspected suicide attempts.”
No parent would like to consider the possibility that their child might be actively trying to harm themselves or have more. passive suicidal ideationThis is. Many children, however, are at risk of being displaced by the crisis declaration. Und prior research suggestsAbout half of the parents who have children considering suicide don’t know it.
These are the basics that every parent should know.
There are many types of suicidal thoughts.
“Suicidal ideation refers to thoughts about committing suicide. It varies along a continuum,” Steven MeyersHuffPost spoke with a Roosevelt University psychology professor. “Passive ideation is when someone thinks that others would be better if they weren’t alive. Active ideation means that the person is developing a plan to harm themselves.”
Meyers noted that brief moments of suicidal ideation are “fairly common among children and teenagers” as well as adults, and most won’t self-harm. But it can be difficult to determine how dire a person’s thoughts are.
That’s just one reason why it is so challenging for mental health professionals to get an accurate sense of how many children grapple with suicidal ideation — compounded by the fact that many children don’t open up about their feelings, and when they do, they’re sometimes brushed off.
Still, Evidence from anecdotal sources suggests otherwiseSuicidal thoughts are on the rise. Although not all children with suicidal thoughts end up harming themselves, suicide continues to be a leading cause for death in children 10 and over. Suicide attempts by adolescents are on the rise.During the pandemic.
It is hard to understand this information. But it’s not meant to unnecessarily frighten parents. It is meant to illustrate the widespread nature of this problem. Clark Flatt, President of the Jason Foundation ― a nonprofit that he and his family began after his younger son, Jason, died by suicide ― HuffPost previously reportedEvery parent must be aware that this is a serious issue. “I see it all the time — parents will read about suicide or hear about a study like this and say, ‘Gee, that’s a terrible thing. How sad for those families.’ But they have what I call not-my-kid syndrome.”
Suicidal thoughts can even be experienced by very young children.
Although youth suicide is often thought to be a problem that affects adolescents and teens, recent research suggests otherwise. Anywhere between 2-10%As young as nine-years-old, many children have considered suicide. Children are also more likely to consider suicide than adults, according to research. as young as 5Suicide risk may exist.
That’s why parents need to take it seriously if a young child talks about suicide ― or perhaps even writes or draws about it ― Know what to look for in order to identify themThis could include problems sleeping and eating, withdrawal, isolation, or feeling helpless.
Don’t wait for these conversations to feel easy
“The majority of parents will find these conversations really hard, and it is painful to think that your own child could be feeling this level of desperation,” Meyers said. Still, it’s important for parents to talk to children about their thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. If you lay that groundwork early, you’re better able to spot more serious problems as they arise.
It’s important to tailor conversations to a child’s age, Meyers said, and to ease into such talks. Mental health professionals use a “tiered approach,” he explained.
“It begins with a less threatening talk about negative feelings, frustrations, and mood. When there are problems that are evident, the wording becomes more specific, but does not necessarily feature the term ‘killing yourself,’” he said. “Most therapists will focus on passive suicidal ideation by asking questions like, ‘Have you ever felt like just giving up?’”
Again, if the thought of having this kind of direct conversation puts your stomach in knots, you’re not alone. It’s painful, as a parent, to admit your child is struggling, said Jenni Torres, senior vice president of curriculum and instruction at Waterford.org, a non-profit organization for early educationYou can find it here. Torres, a mother herself and a teacher in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, was there.
“We might feel guilt or anxiety that we as parents have somehow failed,” she said. “But at the end of the day, we need to know that our child’s well-being is the most important thing. And we don’t need to be ashamed about having these conversations and about saying that we’re struggling.”
It is not a good idea to talk about suicide with children.
There’s Myths are a thing of the past that talking about suicide or self-harm “somehow can inspire a child” to hurt themselves ― but “this is false,” Meyers said. “These conversations, although they are difficult, are the early warning system that families have. They allow parents to pivot into action and find a therapist for them right away when it is needed.”
If you don’t know where to start finding a therapist, reach out as soon as possible to your child’s pediatrician, or even their school, which should be able to connect you with resources.
“Only positive things come out of having a really strong relationship with your child’s teacher,” Torres said.
But this problem shouldn’t just be on parents to ‘solve’
Parents have a vital role in helping their kids deal with mental health problems and providing support when they arise. The recent emergency declaration makes it clear we’re in an all-hands-on-deck moment.
“The emergency declaration really does draw attention to the spike in mental heath issues occurring now in children and adolescents because of the continuing stresses associated with the pandemic,” Meyers told HuffPost. “The language of an emergency declaration is clear and compelling — there are dire consequences if ignored.”
Still, he said, it is not solely on parents to address the crisis — and he emphasized that parents are not expected to be mental health professionals, nor should they be. “Parents need to be on the lookout and be prepared to address their children’s psychological problems,” Meyers said. “However, this emergency declaration also has societal implications. There is a shortage of mental health providers in some communities who have the ability to work with clients right away.”
An emergency declaration is needed to expand prevention programs at schools and primary health care and increase federal funding for mental health services for all children. One recent study found thatThere is approximately one child psychiatrist for every 10256 children in the United States.
For help if you or someone you care about needs, please call 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention LifelineSend an email to. Text HOME to 741-741 and get a free text message Support available 24 hours a day Crisis Text Line. Please note that the U.S. is not included in this list. Go to the International Association for Suicide PreventionFor a database Resources