SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – On World Mental Health Day, parenting journalist and expert Donna Tetreault speaks with ABC4’s Emily Clark about the importance of addressing your child’s mental health.
Recently, Tetreault published an article in Thrive Global called, “The Way We Think About Kids’ Mental Health Is Dead Wrong.”
“I really wanted to focus on kids’ mental health, specifically 12 and under,” says Tetreault. “We know that the teenage years have depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide and that has increased over the past two decades.”
Tetreault says from 2004-2019, that rate has nearly doubled. The suicide rate for those ages 10-24 rose more than 57%. These tragic statistics are a wake-up call to truly rethink the way we tackle children’s mental health as a society.
What can parents do to ensure their child stays healthy and happy? Speaking openly and regularly to your children about mental health will allow them to embrace the topic.
“We need to remove this stigma,” says Tetreault. “Mental health and taking care of ourselves is something that’s good. We need to overtly talk about mental health the way we talk about physical health. We talk about nutrition, fitness and taking care of our physical well-being, but we’re not talking about taking care of our mental health and well-being.”
Talking openly about mental health to your children will ensure the topic is normalized. It’s also critical for parents to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to their child’s needs.
Tetreault says it still takes an average of 8-10 years to get a child who has been diagnosed with the professional services they truly need. This prolonged timeline is due to a general lack of trained professionals paired with a lack of parent education and awareness.
If parents are able to correctly identify the components that signal their child may need help, the sooner that child can be matched with the services they need to thrive.
Managing our emotions and allowing our kids to feel all of their feelings, even bad ones, is a wonderful way to stay in touch with your emotions.
To watch the full conversation, check out the video above.