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Pinellas County non-profit spreads awareness about the importance of mental health for teens

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May is National Mental Health Month

Pinellas, Fla. (May 13, 2015) – Adolescence 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. In honor of National Prevention Week during May 17-23 and May being designated as Mental Health Month, 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.

Mental health refers to the maintenance of successful mental activity and with statistics that one in five young people suffer from a mental illness, it’s no surprise there needs to be awareness dedicated to this issue.

Worrying about the pressures of becoming a teenager is normal but feeling very sad, hopeless, or worthless may be a sign of a mental health problem and cause dangerous behaviors.

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.

“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 can be overwhelming and adults play a crucial role in preventing teens from developing a substance use disorder.”

Below are five tips from LiveFree! to help teenager’s mental health:

  1. Most mental illnesses are not always apparent. Keep a close eye on teens during their transition into adolescence and note significant changes in attitude, unexpected weight loss and behavior.
  2. 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. Be prepared to discuss the dangers of drugs and how they can alter brain development.
  3. Healthy treatment is an option. Mental Health Disorders are treatable with doctor approved medicine. Teens should not be turning to the medicine cabinet for illegal help. Parents should make sure prescriptions are locked up and away from teens.
  4. Exercise is key. Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.
  5. Educate parents. There tends to be a negative stigma around mental health issues due to false facts and outdated news stories. Parents can educate themselves and others with the latest information.

National Prevention Week is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. National Prevention Week 2015 will take place May 17-23. This year’s theme is “The Voice of One, the Power of All.”


“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 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 1 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. Information about this observance can be found here:

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 or email us at


About Prevention Week

National Prevention Week is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. Join individuals, organizations, and coalitions in your community to promote prevention strategies, educate others about behavioral health issues, and build community partnerships.




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