The CDC recently released a disturbing study showing that 3 in 5 teen girls have felt deeply sad or hopeless in 2021, a 60% increase since 2013. This is on track with growing mental health concerns in the U.S., but the dramatic increase in teen girls is concerning. As parents, coaches, teachers or extended family members, you may be wondering what you can do to help the teen girls in your life. We have a few recommendations for how you can help.
- Ask questions and listen to responses. Teen girls may open up at times that aren’t convenient, like at bedtime or while driving to school. However, you need to listen if they are willing to talk about their lives. Put aside your emails or meal planning for a few minutes and hear their concerns, asking questions and offering additional support on an ongoing basis or in the form of a therapist or counselor.
- Monitor behavior changes. Any sudden changes in behavior shouldn’t be ignored. This includes a change in appetite, appearance, and/or a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities that needs to be addressed. Quitting a team sport mid-season, dropping grades or losing a friend group can often be signs of deepening depression.
- Give them a safe space. Reassure your teens that you are willing to listen and help in any situation. If you don’t have that capacity or your child wants a ‘lifeline’ that isn’t a parent, ask an aunt, grandparent or another adult friend you trust to help them in times of need.
- Help them find an outlet. We relied on outlets in the early stages of the pandemic, picking up new hobbies or ways to relieve stress. Help your teen find something they enjoy doing and support the hobby. This could be painting, playing piano, baking, meditating or something physical like walking the neighborhood or yoga. If you help kids identify ways to calm down, the hope is that they can rely on those techniques when they are in crisis.
- Know their crowd. When your teens were younger, you knew their friends and their friends’ families. That is still important even when your kids are driving and have phones. By keeping in touch with their contacts, you can more easily track drastic behavior changes.
As a parent, you know what is normal, or not normal, for your teens. While this study is scary and overwhelming, we hope to offer you tips to help your teens through turbulent times.
Youth Villages offers a 24/7 crisis support line staffed by master’s-level clinicians who can assess the situation efficiently and effectively, make sure everyone is safe and provide next steps for a care plan, whether that involves in-patient care or a therapy plan. The crisis services staff provides assessment and evaluation of children and youth, up to age 18, who are experiencing a psychiatric emergency. Our support system state-wide is connected so you and your loved one can benefit from that alignment. Parents or guardians need to be a part of the treatment plan for it to work.
Anyone in crisis or searching for help for someone in crisis can call the Tennessee Statewide Crisis Hotline:
- 1-855-CRISIS-1 (1-855-274-7471)
- Crisis TextLine – Text “TN” to 741741
If you are located in another state outside of Tennessee, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
- Dial 988
Youth Villages is one of the largest providers of services to children in Tennessee and a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health. The organization has been recognized by the Harvard Business School and U.S. News & World Report and was identified by The White House as one of the nation’s most promising results-oriented nonprofit organizations. Learn more at www.youthvillages.org.
Crisis services are available 24/7 if your child needs support. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741. If you have thoughts of suicide, contact 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.