Yes, the CDC saw a 51 percent increase in suicide attempts by adolescent girls during the pandemic.
Yes, emergency department mental health visits were up 31 percent among adolescents during the same period, driven by higher incidents of crises among young girls.
Yet, we cannot blame all of this on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a powerful multi-part series on Facebook this week, uncovering internal documents that revealed the company’s knowledge that Instagram is taking a serious toll on the mental health of teens. Of course, Facebook’s PR playbook is to hide and deny knowledge of its darker impacts on society publicly, even as research spells them out internally.
That begs the question...
Who is the bigger culprit of poor mental health among our teens — the pandemic or social media?
As a parent, it is so difficult to admit that raising today’s teens is harder than ever. We have always had to compete with their friends for attention. But now we also have to compete with their cell phones, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. And, sadly, these apps are winning the battle for your teen’s time.
So, it’s time to take back the lives of our most important family treasures. Time to bolster the future of our teens.
Here are some concrete steps you can take:
- Take time every day, not occasionally, to find out about your teen’s lives. Who are their friends? Who are the parents of their friends? Where does your teen hang out? What do they do with their free time? What are their favorite TV shows? What are their top-visited websites? What’s their favorite class in school, and why? What about their least favorite?
- Don’t let a meal go by with your teens on their phones, or you on yours. All phones should be put away during dinner hours.
- Pick a night or two of each week for family dinners. I know these can compete with friends and sports, but nothing can replace family time.
- Go on vacation with your kids to a destination that will encourage outdoor activities and talking. Think of places you can hike, walk and camp together.
- Encourage your teens to invite their friends over the home and get to know them. You need to know everything you can about their friends because these friends now have a greater influence on your teen than you.
- Talk about their futures with them. Today, there is more confusion than ever regarding the future of your teen. Give them positive guidance.
- Find a hobby you can do together with your teen. Even cooking together can encourage positive conversation.
It’s your job to find out what makes your teen tick. The difference between a moody teenager and a depressed teenager is a slight shade of grey. Should you feel that you need some professional assistance, seek this out and never be afraid to call 911 for instant help.
Let us help you by you helping your teen as they move forward through a very uncertain and cloudy future:
Visit our Resources page, or
Click the icons to explore counseling options for your teen:
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Your child uses an app on their phone to communicate with the therapist. Counseling is confidential but the therapist will alert you if an intervention is required.
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Remember: You need to be present and here for your teen so they can be here for themselves. Sometimes, teens need therapy, medication and help. Stress and depression are real and deserve real remedies. Don’t hesitate to call 211 for help.
For more information, please visit our Resources page and browse the ABD blog, filled with lots of actionable tips for dealing with the difficult and stressful parts of teen life. Call us anytime for assistance.
All my best,
President, a brighter day charity
EMAIL: [email protected]
P.S. I'd love to have you at our upcoming Virtual Gala. Register below.
Join us for our VIRTUAL GALA, an exciting evening full of entertainment, music, live speakers, virtual door prizes, a silent and live auction, and much more! This event is happening on Sunday, November 21st at 4:00pm PT. All funds will go toward increasing teen mental health awareness throughout the East Bay.