News Article Details

We all must do our part for mental health

The Herald Journal - 5/2/2017

To the editor:

I write today to the members, more specifically to the parents of our community. I wish to bring awareness to a very serious subject matter. I am currently studying to receive my masters of social work at the University and I have served as an intern at Sky View High School during the 2016-2017 school year. Working as a school social worker I have witnessed first-hand the affects of mental illness on some of the adolescents in this community. I have also come to the horrific realization that most of these youths’ parents and caregivers are unaware of what mental illness is and how to help their children.

A mental illness is not something that can be cured by “trying harder” or simply by “thinking happy thoughts.” A mental disorder or mental illness is a diagnosable illness that affects all aspects of a person’s life. It affects one’s ability to think, rationalize, and prevents them from carrying on normal active lives while inhibiting their ability to engage in healthy relationships.

Depression and anxiety are only some of the mental illnesses that our youth face today. Unfortunately, suicide and suicidal tendencies can be symptoms that they experience. Suicide is now the leading cause of death of youth ages 11 to 17. Utah is ranked 5th in the nation as a state with the most teenage suicides.

The good news is that mental illness is treatable. The key, is for those in these adolescents’ support circles to be aware of what to look for and know how to help them in a crisis situation. Knowledge is power.

Last weekend my MSW cohort sponsored a Mental Health First Aid training on USU campus where we invited key stakeholders in the community to attend this training program and then advocate for further trainings in Logan. Mental Health First Aid is a program that helps citizens to be aware of what a mental crisis is and it teaches them how to respond to an individual in a crisis situation. “Mental Health First Aid USA is a great framework for providing immediate support to the youth and also getting them connected to other professionals and caring adults that can further help in a time of crisis” (Brianne Masselli, Youth M.O.V.E National).

Just like CPR training, having the skills to recognize a situation where your help could be the difference between life and death, is exactly what the parents in this valley need. There are so many youths who need our help, but help cannot always be left up to professionals. We can, and must do our part. How do we start? Now we know how.

Holly Larson



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