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Posted on: September 20, 2021

Talk to Kids and Teens About Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Mom helping her daughter

The National Alliance of Mental Illness shared that teen suicide rates are higher than the national average in Arizona, with 17% of high school students say they've seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. In addition, Teen Lifeline, the state's leading organization tackling teen suicide, shared they've seen a 30% increase in calls compared to this time last year. Last year also saw a double-digit increase, with the peer counseling hotline receiving more than 35,000 calls and texts.

It's not an understatement to say that the last two years have been traumatic for kids and teens. From being isolated from peers and support groups to potentially losing a loved one to COVID, the pandemic has had a significant adverse effect on the well-being of youth. However, even before the pandemic, youth suicide was on the rise. According to a news release from UC Davis Health, suicide has been the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10-24 every year since 2007. In addition, more than half of teens who try to commit suicide have never been given a mental health diagnosis.

While challenging, having discussions surrounding mental health can make a significant difference in a kid's or teen's life and let them know they are supported. Along with open communication, teaching kids and teens how to cope with stressful situations will teach them to prioritize their mental health and give them lifelong tools to be healthier adults. There are two types of coping skills that you should actively practice in your household to tolerate or minimize stress. These include emotion-focused and problem-focused coping skills. Emotion-focused coping skills help you healthily acknowledge your feelings and help you tolerate or minimize the stress related to those feelings. Problem-focused coping skills help you eliminate the source of your stress by changing your habits, actions, or situation. Examples of each of these include:

  • Getting outside and exercising
  • Taking a break and doing something you're excited about
  • Facetiming, calling, texting, or hanging out with friends
  • Finding support and asking for advice
  • Make a to-do list and practice good time management
  • Saying No and establishing health boundaries
  • Walking away from a relationship, event, or situation

Remind teens that help looks different for everyone, and it's up to them to decide what will work best. The important thing is that they talk about it and practice these skills. It's also equally important that parents set an example and incorporate these skills into their healthy habits.

Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for more mental health and suicide prevention resources.

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