Teen Girls Are Setting New Records For Mental Health Issues. Here Are 6 Ways You Can Help.

The CDC says kids need more support to "cope, hope, and thrive". Here are the ways you can help.

Katie Sue Webber
Katie Sue Webber
Mom to two sweet little boys. Helping moms is her passion.
Last updated
March 7, 2023

According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, “US teens are experiencing record levels of sadness, violence, and trauma.”  More than half (57%) of U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021. This rate is double that of boys and 60% higher than a decade ago. Almost 25% of teen girls in 2021 made a suicide plan and the rate of experienced sexual violence among teen girls rose by 20% between the years 2017 and 2021.

Laurie McGarry Klose, past president of the National Association of School Psychologists shares, “This is the hard data that shows what we have known anecdotally for the last couple of years.” Poor mental health has been trending upward since 2011, but a 10% spike between 2019 and 2021 shows the effects of pandemic-related isolation.

Dr. Houry, the CDC’s Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Director for Program and Science, states “this data shows our kids need far more support to cope, hope, and thrive.” If you are worried about your teen daughter, here are six ways to help her thrive:

1. Lead by Listening

Psychologist Lisa Damour recommends becoming a soundboard for your teen. Instead of a back-and-forth conversation, just listen. “My job is to listen so intently that when she comes to the end of the (story), I can produce a headline.”

2. Stay Curious

As a parent, it is hard to listen to problems without providing answers or advice, but teenagers want to feel heard and their feelings validated. Acknowledging the feeling first and empathizing with their emotions helps to create a safe space for them to open up.

3. Find an Advocate

Acknowledge if your teen's sadness progresses beyond what you can handle. It’s ok if they need another adult or a mental health professional to talk to. You can reach out to your teen's doctor to help find the right person for them.

4. Encourage School Participation

Research shows that teens connected to other students and teachers at school had a very positive impact on their lives.

5. Stay Involved

Parental monitoring and involvement have been shown to decrease sexual risk, substance use, violence, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Knowing where your teen is and who they’re hanging out with goes a long way. Teens need to establish a level of independence, but involvement is still important.  

6. Look for Signs of Depression and Suicide Risk

Consult a professional if your teen exhibits the behaviors or answers yes to two or more of these questions:

1- Are they sad or irritable most of the day?

2 -Have they lost interest in things that they used to really enjoy? Or a significant decrease in energy and lack of motivation to do much of anything?

3 - Have their eating or sleeping habits changed?

4 - Are they feeling worthless, hopeless about their future, or guilty about things that aren’t their fault?

5 - Have they had thoughts of suicide?

Full article (via Motherly)

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