Pinellas County non-profit spreads awareness about the importance of mental health for teens during the summer
Pinellas, Fla. (June 22, 2015) –For most teens, summertime is associated with freedom from school and positive emotions. However, one in five young people suffer from a mental illness, and school often provides a consistent schedule that benefits teens with certain mental illnesses. With the potential for summer to be unstructured, teens with mental illness may suffer from or develop underlying mental health issues. An organization located in Pinellas County called the LiveFree! Coalition is set to remind parents that they can be a positive role for their teens’ mental health.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness website suggests that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may develop during the summer. SAD is characterized by depressive episodes that occur during certain times of the year (typically during the winter). In the case of seasonal affective disorder that is experienced during the summer, symptoms tend to be weight loss, minimal appetite, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Heat and humidity could worsen this “reverse SAD.”
Adolescence and summertime isn’t an easy time for teens or their parents. As children go through the transitions that come with adolescence such as physical, emotional, and intellectual changes, the pressure and issues they endure during this time can lead to a variety of mental health disorders as well as issues with substance abuse. Due to peer pressure and undiagnosed mental health issues, teens may experiment not just with alcohol and drugs but prescription pills for self-medication in addition to actions of suicide, bullying, sexual issues and other dangerous behaviors. Summer can increase this risk due to lack of structure.
“There’s a lot that goes on when a child transitions into becoming a teenager and it can be very stressful,” says Daphne Lampley of LiveFree! Coalition. “The pressure that comes with being a teenager, especially during the summer, can be overwhelming. Adults play a crucial role in preventing teens from developing a substance use disorder by ensuring their teenagers’ life is well structured.”
Below are five tips from LiveFree! to help teenager’s mental health:
- Set a plan. Anxiety-based issues become more apparent due in part to a lack of structure during the summer. Teens and parents should sit down at the beginning of the summer and talk about shared summer goals and expectations.
- Most mental illnesses are not always obvious. Keep a close eye on teens during their transition into adolescence and note significant changes in attitude, unexpected weight loss and behavior.
- Be open with teens. Children should know that they can talk to an adult or parent about anything and parents have to be committed to broaching topics of concern and do so openly. An occasional small discussion may be all that is needed to avoid big problems over the summer. Be prepared to discuss the dangers of drugs and how they can alter brain development.
- Treatment is an option. Mental Health Disorders are treatable. Seek professional help for your teen.
- Exercise is key. Get outside and enjoy the summer. Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.
“Parents can support their teenager’s good mental health by keeping a close and supportive relationship with their teen, even during times of conflict or disagreement,” says Maria Roberts, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Personal Enrichment Mental Health Services (PEMHS). “Teens who feel that they can openly communicate about important matters are more likely to develop healthy coping skills to manage the physical and emotional changes of this time. As teenagers successively begin to exercise more independence, it’s important for parents to be encouraging while also knowing what activities their teen is involved with and who their friends are.”
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 10.7% or approximately one in 10 teens struggled with Major Depression in 2013. Parents are an important part of teen mental health and have more influence than they may realize. It’s important for parents to seek help early if they have concerns about their child’s mental health.
About LiveFree! Coalition
LiveFree! Coalition raises awareness about the harmful effects of substance abuse among youth, young adults and adults in Pinellas County. By offering trainings, advocacy, town hall meetings, a Speaker’s Bureau, environmental strategies and awareness events, LiveFree! encourages Pinellas County families to live safe, healthy and drug-free. For more information, visit our website at www.pinellascoalition.com or email us at email@example.com.