A recent Parent Night Event at Community Christian Church in Naperville featured Dr. Chinwé Williams, co-author with Will Hutcherson of Seen: Healing Despair and Anxiety in Kids and Teens through the Power of Connection. Williams shared powerful data and insights regarding youth, families, and mental health. Some alarming trends:
- Suicide rates have increased by 76% for ages 15-19.
- Suicide rates have nearly doubled in teen girls.
- The highest rate of increase in suicide among all age groups is in kids ages 10 to 14.
- Depressive symptoms are up 21% in boys and up 50% in girls.
Research reminds us of the importance of relationship when supporting young people. Dr. Williams shared five tools that help build those connections:
- Show Up (Be there, undistracted, before being asked to, so that they feel loved.)
- See Them (See beyond behavior to feelings, so that they feel understood.)
- Just Listen (Help them feel safe.)
- Speak Life (Express positive things, how proud you are and how you love being their parent or caregiver, so that they feel worthy.)
- Develop Grit (Empower them so that they feel capable.)
For instance, a family was going through a difficult time and the son became distant. He loved to play video games at night, so to reconnect, the mother began to sit quietly with him in the family room, knitting as he played. After ten nights of this, he began to ask her about the things that had been preoccupying him – a great example of slowing down and showing up before being asked.
Dr. Williams’ new book, Beyond the Spiral, focuses on supporting young people as they overcome anxiety.
Do you have helpful books or resources regarding youth mental health? Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check our website kidsmatter2us.org for additional mental health resources.