Even if mental health isn’t something tangible to the naked eye or easily observable nor measurable, it does not mean it is not important. Whether you are young or old, it is important to not only be physical healthy but to be mentally healthy as well. Many of our internal struggles can significantly weigh you down and prevent you from realizing your fullest potentials because others are oblivious to the fact that you are silently fighting your inner demons. Despite the continued advances in technology, some things still remain the same or perhaps even get worse with the passing of time. The more we get hooked to technology we are, the more isolated we become from the real world. Many people spend hours glued to their smartphones and no longer lead an active social life unlike people in the past who actually had to go out and meet and talk to people if they wanted to connect at all.
The most vulnerable to the cons of technology are today’s youth. They are basically just learning how the world works but they are already exposed to a lot of things that they are not yet ready for because of their overexposure to social media. While there are many things you can do online, it has its perils too and they easily fall prey because they have access to the web even without their parent’s supervision. After all, most kids today have their own smart gadgets that they are free to use at will and a WiFi connection is almost part of every household’s utility today. Since most of these young children and teens are active on social media, they are vulnerable to cyber bullying and face the backlash of a violent and oppressive online community where they have no power over.
Beginning next year, elementary, middle and high schools in New York state will be required to include mental health education in the health curriculum.
“New York State is the first state in the country to do this and I think that’s phenomenal. We are taking the lead and setting an example on what to do and how to help these young people,” said Karl Shallowhorn, director of community advocacy for the Mental Health Association of Erie County and Compeer Buffalo.
Shallowhorn also serves on the board of the Mental Health Association of New York State, which pushed for legislation to require mental health education, and is now working with the NY State Department of Education to develop the curriculum.
Many adults are starting to realize the impact of technology most especially social media to the youth. Depression is a mental condition from which most youth suffers from without their parents or guardians knowing because they keep it to themselves. They either stay cooped up inside their rooms and foregoing any social interaction with others, so they intentionally alienate themselves from people who can possibly help them in their attempt to protect themselves from more harm. Aside from their tech use, schools today are also stressors for most students as they have to deal with all sorts of peer pressure, expectations, and bullying among others although this is no longer new as it is the reality for everyone who were once students themselves in their youth.
Experts say parents play a pivotal role in changing the conversation when it comes to their kids’ psychological well-being. Here are a few ways to spot if your kid is dealing with a mental health issue and how to realistically help them through it:
Look out for striking changes in behavior.
Nguyen says that drastic changes in mood ― especially in a month or a shorter period of time ― could be a sign that something bigger is at play. This can include withdrawing from social activities kids once loved, or displaying anger or sadness more than usual. Teens who might be engaging in self-harm may wear longer sleeves, even in warm weather, Nguyen added.
“That’s a huge red flag,” she said. “It’s kind of hard because these things correlate with puberty and sometimes adults are like, ‘Oh, my kid is just going through those shifts.’ It gets hard for parents because this period of time is so muddy.”
Again, it boils down to having an open relationship between parents and their kids. Younger and older children are all at risk even if they face different challenges according to their ages. Parents should be sensitive and observant of any changes to their children’s behavior because there will definitely be red flags that will tell you something is definitely wrong even if they are not speaking up about it. Let us never overlook our mental health no matter your age because our sanity is the only thing that keeps us going in this crazy world we live in. It’s essentially what gives you the will to move forward no matter how difficult life gets. But of course, we are only human. Our mental health will deteriorate at certain points in our lives but it does not mean it is the end of the world for you. You can rise above the anxiety, depression, or whatever it is that is mentally weighing you down and live a happy life that does not rely on other people’s approval.