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CDC Data Show Sharp Rise in Teen Mental Health Problems But Experts Say Parents Can Help


They say it's important to talk to your kids but more important to listen

Being a teenager is not easy these days.

Figures from the CDC show that from 2011 to 2021 there was a sharp rise in the number of young people who say they feel sad or hopeless — especially girls and teens who identify as LGBTQ.

Mental health expert Dr. Charmain Jackman says recent years have only made things worse.

“Prior to Covid we were already concerned about the resources that are available to young people and the state of what they’re dealing with and so those conditions have only worsened in the wake of Covid,” she said.

Jackman urges parents to have open and honest conversations with their kids, especially throughout their adolescence and beyond, since more than half of mental illness begins before age 14.

“Being able to develop those communication skills that allow you to listen to your child with compassion even if you disagree with what they say you may have things that you want to share with them it’s so much better to just listen first,” she said.

Jackman says the preteen years are a critical time to try to connect.

“Their bodies are changing, there are hormonal changes they’re often relying more looking more to friends as their social connections and who they want to spend time with, and so as parents we want to make sure that we’re still in the picture,” she said.

Jackman noted the recent data show a sharp increase in suicide attempts among young people.

The Ad Council is offering a resource called a Conversation Starter Pack, as part of its Sound it Out campaign, that families can use together to open up the dialogue with their teens about mental health.

Visit SoundItOutTogether.org/talk to access the Conversation Starter Pack and other tools to help open up the conversation with your kids.

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.