Factors Leading to a Mental Health Crisis Among Youth in America

“We are in a state of emergency and we need to do something about it urgently because this is a matter of life and death,” said Dr. Khadijah Booth Watkins of Massachusetts General Hospital. A call to action from a Massachusetts mental health expert. dr. Khadijah Booth Watkins says the impact of the past two years is still intensely felt. Booth Watkins says, “Kids die, kids have disabilities, they don’t reach their milestones because the mental illness isn’t adequately identified and treated.” Booth Watkins is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Mass General Hospital, as well as the associate director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds. “We’re essentially an educational vehicle and we’re spreading mental health education to the public,” Booth Watkins said. She says psychiatrists, pediatricians and even the surgeon general have sounded the alarm to deal with the growing mental health crisis in children. age 10-24.” Another alarming statistic: Research shows that black children ages 5 to 12 are nearly twice as likely to die by suicide compared to their white peers. That’s a shift over the past decade Booth Watkins says, “So this data isn’t even really included from post-pandemic, which is scary. Research regarding specifically looking at suicidality in the black community is underexposed and underfunded. Much of the research that has been done does not take into account the problems unique to black children and they do not consider the protective factors unique to black children.” “They carry the same risk factors when they are depressed, anxious, lonely and isolated. , but when we think about the addition of racism, the discrimination, the violence, the images they see on TV where they are misrepresented, stereotyped or they watch violence against their peers that is stressful… and when we think about no matter how stressful that is and what stress with our bodies, we can’t ignore the role it plays and probably an important role it plays.” Booth Watkins says there are some signs parents should watch out for: Changes in their habits children, for example, if they are suddenly very moody or talk a lot about worries and fears Changes in sleeping and eating habits If they are no longer with friends or family e want to be. A big change in their social group. A critical step she says is just talk: Booth Watkins says, “Conversation is incredibly important because it has to do with stigma, because when we hide mental illness and envelop it with shame and shame, you feel isolated and you feel alone and you feel what’s wrong with me. So if you open up these conversations, you can create a dialogue and let people know they’re not alone. We can share solutions together that have worked for us.” Booth Watkins says it’s important for parents to start these conversations even if they don’t see any issues — so kids feel comfortable opening up. As for when to seek professional help, she says aggression, threats, talking about not wanting to live, or erratic or risky behavior are all big warning signs.

“We are in a state of emergency and we need to do something about it urgently because this is a matter of life and death,” said Dr. Khadijah Booth Watkins of Massachusetts General Hospital.

A call to action from a Massachusetts mental health expert.

dr. Khadijah Booth Watkins says the impact of the past two years is still intensely felt.

Booth Watkins says, “Kids die, kids have disabilities, they don’t reach their milestones because the mental illness isn’t adequately identified and treated.”

Booth Watkins is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Mass General Hospital and associate director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds.

“We’re essentially an educational vehicle and we’re spreading mental health education to the public,” Booth Watkins said.

She says psychiatrists, pediatricians and even surgeon generals have sounded the alarm to deal with the growing mental health crisis in children.

She says: “It’s extremely unfortunate and very sad. Suicide has risen to the second leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10-24.”

Another alarming statistic:

Research shows that black children ages 5 to 12 are almost twice as likely to die by suicide compared to their white peers. That’s a shift over the past decade.

Booth Watkins says, “So this data isn’t even really included from post-pandemic, which is terrifying. Research on looking specifically at suicidality in the black community is underexposed and underfunded. A lot of research that’s been done doesn’t take into account the problems unique to black children and they do not take into account the protective factors unique to black children.”

“They carry the same risk factors when they are depressed, anxious, lonely and isolated, but when we think about the addition of racism, the discrimination, the violence, the images they see on TV where they are misrepresented, stereotyped or they watch violence against their peers that is stressful … and if we think about how stressful that is and what stress does to our bodies, we can’t ignore the role it plays and probably an important role it plays.”

Booth Watkins says there are some signs parents should look out for:

  • Changes in their children’s habits, for example if they are suddenly very moody or talk a lot about worries and fears.
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits.
  • If they no longer want to be with friends or family.
  • A big change in their social group.
  • One crucial step she says is just TALK:

Booth Watkins says, “Conversation is incredibly important because it has to do with stigma, because when we hide mental illness and envelop it with shame and shame, you feel isolated and you feel alone and you feel what’s wrong with me. So If you can create a dialogue in these conversations more openly and let people know they’re not alone, we can share solutions together that have worked for us.”

Booth Watkins says it’s important for parents to start these conversations even when they don’t see any issues — so kids feel comfortable opening up.

As for when to seek professional help, she says aggression, threats, talking about not wanting to live, or erratic or risky behavior are all big warning signs.

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