March 30, 2023
By Courtney Wise
Good morning, MindSite News readers! In this edition, we look at the possible damage a bossy BFF can do to your children’s mental health. Teens weigh in on the value of mental health days at school. And find out why Daniel Tiger’s inimitable lessons are good for preschoolers and teens alike.
We also grieve another mass shooting, this one at an elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, and will spend a future issue looking at how other countries have all but eliminated such tragedies. Plus: What colleges are trying to do to stop the spread of college athletes dying by suicide.
Finally, we invite you to a youth mental health conversation with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, which will take place tomorrow at 10 am PT. Register below to save your place!
Join MindSite News tomorrow at 10 am PT for an important live discussion on youth with youth advisory board members from Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and a Q&A led by BeMe Health. Gain valuable insight from young leaders about the mental health problems youth are grappling with and learn more about the Born This Way Foundation, including its work to support youth mental health and to build a kind and braver world.
A bossy BFF may be bad for teens’ mental health
Being strong willed is one thing; being domineering is another. The difference is marked by a person who is self assured, while the other calls the shots for themselves—and everyone around them. Teens with a domineering best friend are at greater risk for mental health challenges, according to a MindSite News piece republished from The Conversation.
The trouble is a lack of equity in the relationship. Teens with bossy or domineering BFFs may feel powerless in the friendship, sparking feelings of distress, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Experts say that If you find that your teen is struggling with an imbalanced friendship, teaching them communication skills to assert their wants and needs can help. Read the full story here.
Teens weigh in on the value of taking “mental health days” from school
Experts say granting students mental health days off won’t solve the youth mental health crisis, but assert that such mental breaks are still worth it. “It’ll be a ripple effect,” said Nikki Poindexter Ham, president of the Maryland School Counselor Association, in a Youthcast exclusive for MindSite News. “If you don’t allow students to take the time off to deal with their mental health, there will be a decrease in organizational skills, self regulation skills.” Moreover, teens say there are just days when they really need the time off to relax and heal.
Since 2019, 12 states have passed legislation to allow students to take excused days off from school for their mental health. A few, such as New York and Maryland, have bills pending. Reporters for Youthcast Media Group interviewed their peers and professionals for their views on the idea.
Nana Opare-Addo, for example, thinks her Gen X parents would have mixed feelings about an official school policy for mental health days. “They initially harbored a ‘suck-it-up’ disposition and didn’t believe that mental health was something worth acknowledging,” she said. “However, when my parents began noticing the physical toll that poor mental health took on me and my siblings, they were essentially forced to confront its very real detriment. In this sense, I believe that many parents would consider excused mental health days to be absolutely crucial.”
Daniel Tiger’s lessons are good for teenagers and grownups, too
Twenty years after his death, Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers) and his legacy still have a strong impact on today’s preschool set. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – which features the adventures of a friendly, playful boy tiger – was created by the Fred Rogers Company in 2012. Today the popular animated show airs on PBS stations across the US every morning and afternoon, helping young children have fun while developing healthy social-emotional skills. Former educator, now journalist and author, Deborah Farmer Kris tells CNN its teachings are good for teenagers (and adults), too, and I have to agree. Here are some of the lessons she focuses on.
Talk it out. “Use your words; use your words!” goes the Daniel Tiger jingle I sing to my rising kindergartener. When she doesn’t have the vocabulary to sum up her feelings, we sit down, talk things over—she talks; I listen—and put a name to the emotion together. It’s a good mental health strategy for everyone, said neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett. According to her research, people who can clearly recognize their unpleasant emotions are “30 percent more flexible when regulating their emotions, less likely to drink excessively when stressed, and less likely to retaliate aggressively against someone who has hurt them.”
Don’t worry alone. That’s a lesson straight from Rogers himself. “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable,” he said. Key here is adults taking on the support role and listening. As adolescent psychologist Lisa Damour says, “It takes practice to lean in, focus, ask relevant questions, and listen with your whole heart.”
I like you just the way you are. This may be toughest of all to show teens, especially in the midst of a highly charged emotional outburst. But teens and older children need to know how valued and wanted they are – even when they’re actively pulling or pushing away. If you need incentive to remind your big kid how much you like them, remember this: A 2014 study published in Child Development found that “parental warmth” enhances the effectiveness of every other good parenting strategy.
In other news…
We mourn yet another horrific school shooting in Tennessee, which claimed the lives of three 9-year-old children and three adults. As lawmakers stall on restricting assault weapons, which the UK, Norway and New Zealand managed to do after one mass shooting. Southern California writer and author Samantha Dunn shared on Twitter a 2016 piece she wrote about the retired Marine and neighborhood grandfather– a soothing presence at her child’s elementary school in Linda Vista – who showed up the day after the Sandy Hook school shooting and never left.
When college athletes die by suicide, how to heal the team becomes the next focus. Students athletes dying by suicide was relatively unheard of until recently, reported California Healthline. But last year alone, five college athletes died from suicide over two months. Campuses have taken note, working to provide students more mental health support and developing programs in suicide prevention, and in some cases, “postvention,” to halt what they call suicide contagion.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect in English or Spanish. If you’re a veteran press 1. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing dial 711, then 988. Services are free and available 24/7.
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