Sometimes it is difficult for parents to know what young people are thinking.
Talk to them.
There are subjects that are very uncomfortable.
After a week in which two Warren County high school students were killed, a team from the Center for Community Resources reached out to affected parents at three events this week.
They recommended having age-appropriate, but open and honest discussions with young people.
On Friday, Ronna Tipton of Forest Warren Human Services, and Kris Fenton and Katie Doerr of the Center for Community Resources – recently appointed the county’s emergency helpline – met with a small group at Warren Area High School.
They had an honest conversation, the kind they suggest parents have with their children.
They covered mental health, suicide, what to talk about and what to look for.
If a teenage girl goes to her bedroom for hours every night, should that automatically be a wake-up call for mental health?
No. But, coupled with other behaviors, especially behavior changes, it could be.
“Each child will be different” Doerr said. “Each age will be different.”
“Adolescents can be difficult” she said. âIsolation could be seen as behavior that causes concern. He might be grappling with something. Having these open conversations should clarify some of these things. “
They would sometimes talk about their own kids, saying that when you’re locked in their room maybe it’s to get away from a sibling, or maybe that’s where they’re playing video games. .
Doerr said she is “always knocking on the door” just to check.
“You really want to look at behavior changes” said Fenton. âThey don’t like going out with their friends anymore. They don’t want to go to church. They don’t want to play basketball.
It is important to know why. It could be a red flag for mental health. Or, it could be as simple as playing basketball causing them physical pain.
Information from the CCR lists some common signs of mental health problems:
– feelings of sadness, emptiness, impending doom or hopelessness;
âLoss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities;
– sleep disturbances;
– fatigue and lack of energy;
âReduced appetite and weight loss or cravings for food and weight gain;
– slowing down of thought, speech or body movements;
– feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixation on past failures or self-blame;
âThinking and concentration problems;
âFrequent or recurring thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts;
âFeel nervous, restless or tense;
âHave an increased heart rate; and
– want to avoid things that trigger anxiety.
They also provided some coping mechanisms:
– keep doing things you love;
âAvoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and recreational drugs;
– do not isolate yourself;
– structure your time;
âSetting small goals;
âWrite in a journal; and
-contact your friends and family.
“Talk about it,” Doerr said. âThese conversations are totally necessary. The children hear us.
“We are talking about suicide” she said. âWe are talking about mental health. It is hard sometimes. We want people to be able not to hesitate about this. “
If young people ask about death and suicide, it can be an opportunity for parents to bring up these topics.
“Start the conversation” said Fenton. “How was your day?”
If something is wrong, follow up.
âAre you struggling today? “ Doerr said. “I’m worried about you. Are you having suicidal thoughts?”
Depending on the age of the child, he may not even understand the words he is using. “It’s another piece that can be a bit of a challenge,” Doerr said. “Do you know what this means?”
Honesty is a key in conversation.
âIf you’re not being honest with her, at some point she will understand. “ Doerr said. âOpenness and honesty are always the best policy. “
“There are things that happen in this world that are tragic”, she said. âAs you keep talking about it, it gets easier to talk about it. “
“As parents and guardians, we want to give our children the tools they need to be successful in life” said Fenton.
They need tools to manage information. They have instant access to a world full of information. “With social networks, things are instantaneous” Doerr said. âChildren know things instantly. It can be good. It can be bad.
It’s important to know that words on social media can have real consequences for them and for others.
The Warren community is still in crisis mode, Tipton said. âWe have not yet completed the intervention as a community. “
Immediately, Human Services and the Community Resource Center go to great lengths to ensure that youth and adults know where to find help.
The crisis line is answered 24/7. The number is (844) 757-3224.
The text number is # 63288.
Online chat is available at www.ccrinfo.org.
“If you need to talk to someone, call” Doerr said.
“The resource is available and free” said Fenton.
Concerned parents can call. Friends can call.
Fenton and Doerr said they made sure that stickers with information about the crisis line were immediately made available to the school district.
Some visitors suggested that putting these stickers on cell phones was a safe way to ensure they were always on hand.
When the community is able to move through Crisis Mode, Social Services and the Community Resource Center will be ready to move on to recovery and education.