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1-250-514-8459 tamara@posminds.com
Parenting Teens Amid a Teen Mental Health Crisis

Parenting Teens Amid a Teen Mental Health Crisis

The World Health Organisation believes that  depression will become the number one cause of the global disease burden by 2030. Mental health is a growing concern globally. As parents, we are expecting our children to change the world but we aren’t giving them the tools they need to make this happen. Days like World Mental Health Day shine a spotlight on awareness. Bell’s Let’s Talk has us talking about it. We need to also do something, but parents are given a mixed message about what this is.

Give them space, but don’t let them spend too much time alone.

They need friends to flourish but the wrong friends can cause social stress and anxiety.

Are you pushing too hard? Or maybe you aren’t pushing enough?

If you advocate are you a helicopter? If you don’t help them are you negligent?

How much technology is too much? Is not enough possible?

Did watching 13 Reasons Why cause this funk your daughter is in?

Is she eating enough? If you ask her about her eating will it cause an eating disorder?

Is he gay? Maybe he wants to use “they”. If ask ask will I make it worse?

When I heard Lynn Lyons, anxiety expert say “anxiety- if your child has it, it’s your fault. If it was nature- you. If it was nurture- also you” it helped. I have one child with autism, one with hypothyroid, one with Crohn’s disease and one with dyslexia. I come from a family who don’t historically manage anxiety and stress well. I don’t need to know the why; the genetics, the environment, the things that happen in life outside my control. I need to know how to best help my children be confident, kind, and curious.

My best advice to other moms trying to navigate parenting without a GPS, figure out what you want them to be then get out of their way and let them while keeping in mind:

  1. Connection Matters– No not internet connection. Although your teens will claim that internet connectivity is the most important type of connectivity actual human connection is one key to mental wellness. With teens, friendships can become all encompassing. I like the advice of child psychologist and parenting expert Gordon Neufeld who reminds us“ Absolutely missing in peer relationships are unconditional love and acceptance, the desire to nurture, the ability to extend oneself for the sake of the other, the willingness to sacrifice for the growth and development of the other.” Children need to have an adult mentor in their lives who they feel unconditionally attached to. Parents can help curate these relationships with people who model the values, work ethic, and lifestyle they want for their children.
  2. Kids Need a Purpose Too– Gone are the days where “because I said so” was a reasonable answer. We all need to feel that we matter; that our lives have meaning. Kids too! They want to know why they need to learn math, how science will help them become a soccer star, and how eating too much sugar affects their bodies. They need to understand their value as a person. And if they develop a passion, they need space to follow it (even if playing a viseo game or making YouTube videos seems like wasting time to you). As Patrick Cook-Deegan at The Greater Good Science Center said “Teens are naturally driven to seek new experiences—and that may be the key to helping them develop a sense of purpose in life.”
  3. Let Them Be Themselves– For teens, figuring out who they are is confusing. They thought the liked certain clothes and hairstyles and music and food but then they started to realize that they liked these because their families were pleased when they looked a certain way, ate certain things, or behaved a certain way. In order to test out what they really like they need to put a little distance between themselves and their parents. According to Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent, “Dysfunctional teenagers don’t emerge overnight. They are the result of years of subjugated authenticity and false promises. They have been dying a slow death and now have to fight a daily battle just to feel alive. No teen wants to be “bad.” They simply don’t know any other way to be. The child who grows up to be a defiant teen does so because of a lack of authenticity, a lack of containment, or a lack of connection to the parents—or a combination of these.”
  4. Show Don’t Tell– You want gratitude, model gratitude. You want happy children, work on being a happy parent. You can’t tell your child to calm down if you are yelling at them. Don’t want sarcasm? Stop being passive aggressive. If you lose your cool, model apologizing. If you make a mistake, model owning it. If children never see their parents fail they will grow up believing perfectionism is attainable and when they make a mistake they will feel small and ashamed.
  5. Spend Daily Time on Wellbeing Boosting Practices– Think of meditation, walking in nature, reframing, or learning about your strengths as flexing your happiness muscle. We go to the gym regularly. Take care of your mental health in the same way. Waiting until something goes wrong makes it a whole lot harder. Proactive mental habits will help the healthy and buffer those experiencing a mental health challenge. If your teen is intersted to join you, great! If not, that’s ok too- happiness is contagious. If you boost yours, it will impact theirs!

Have a teen story that might help or inspire another parent who’s about to hit bottom? Please share!

 

Did You Know You Can Measure Wellbeing?

Did You Know You Can Measure Wellbeing?

The world has become data driven. If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t matter. But for those working in fields like mental health, education, human resources and psychology, there hasn’t been a clear way to measure both the strengths and weaknesses of either an individual or an organization. Of course there are clinical resources like the DSM-5, PANAS, DASS, and Kessler-10, but these were all designed for clinical or research settings. And none of these measured wellbeing in a way that allowed proactive intervention.

But now, there is an evidence-based measurement (and intervention!) tool that works.

For Schools- FAS (Flourishing at School)

The FAS software platform includes the Flourishing Profile survey. This 62 item measure is a leading indicator of mental health, useful for proactive wellbeing interventions at both an individual and collective level. The approach is consistent with the other partnership we have at Positive Minds International the Geelong Grammar School Model for Positive Education (2013).

Instead of seeking to identify those who are “at risk” or already distressed, the Flourishing Profile survey uses a positive psychology approach to assess the degree to which individuals have developed the “pillars” of wellbeing. These pillars are commonly referred to by the acronym “PERMA”, which stands for Positive Emotions, Engagement (or flow), Positive Relationships, Meaningfulness, and Accomplishment. Consistent with Geelong Grammar model, the survey also measures Positive Health (nutrition, exercise, and sleep).

The online survey can be taken in about 15 minutes and enables objective assessment of the success of wellbeing interventions. It can also be used to benchmark wellbeing against whole school, cohort, sex and cohort AND sex specific normative samples. It is suitable for secondary students (ages 11-18+) and staff of all ages. Individual results for students are available to the school administrator in order to inform proactive and insightful pastoral care interactions.

Flourishing at School is more than just a measurement tool. It is a complete solution for wellbeing improvement for students and staff. It includes comprehensive administration instructions, tips on whole-of-school implementation, student specific feedback and wellbeing goal setting features, self-development resources (different resources suitable for student and staff users), and full lesson plans for classroom interventions.

For University Students- Flourish Dx (University)

The current approach to mental health in a collegiate setting is largely reactive, targeting the estimated one in six students who have a diagnosable mental illness (Eisenber et al, 2013). Student counselling services are commonly reported to be struggling to keep up with the demand on their time by distressed students.

FlourishDx allows for data-driven proactive mental health intervention at both an individual and collective level. The smartphone first application (it also is compatible with web/tablet), contains two measures: the Flourish Survey (a short version of the school-based Flourishing Profile survey which includes measures of PERMA+Sleep), and a psycho-social risk factors survey (including common student stressors such as study load, relationships, knowledge of and access to services etc.).

The solution also contains a strong educational component with more than 30 video modules covering a range of topics related to both mental health and sleep health. Students can use their results to identify priorities to maintain or optimize wellbeing, with almost two dozen evidence based activities contained within the app. There is also audio based guided meditations such as mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation to quickly address elevated stress levels.

To keep students engaged in the app, there is a “Mental Fitness” coach bot, that will regularly prompt students to check in and feed them relevant information and resources suitable for their wellbeing needs, and interests.

FlourishDx is a preventative approach to mental health for university students. The goal is to keep individuals well, assist to optimize wellbeing, reduce the load on student counselling services, inform campus-based wellbeing interventions, and increase the likelihood that individuals will seek professional assistance if there is a need.

For Corporations- Flourish Dx (Corporate)

Mental health is a growing concern globally. The World Health Organisation believes that unipolar depression will become the number one cause of the global disease burden by 2030. Positive Minds International is bringing Jason van Schie, People Diagnostix Managing Director, to North America in January 2019 to help spread the word that wellbeing is measurable and impacted by your actions.

“Traditionally mental health has been focused on the identification and treatment of illness. However, this is akin to only dealing with heart disease once someone has had a stroke. Like physical health, more needs to be done on prevention if we expect to see reductions on mental illness prevalence, and its burden on individuals, families and the broader community”.

FlourishDx allows for data-driven proactive mental health intervention at both an individual and corporation/department level. The smartphone first application (it also is compatible with web/tablet), contains two measures: the Flourish Survey (a short version of the school-based Flourishing Profile survey which includes measures of PERMA+Sleep), and a Work Design survey (including common workplaces stressors such as workload, role clarity, autonomy, support, justice etc.).

The solution also contains three eLearning programs covering important topics including mental health, sleep health, and fatigue risk management. These can be pushed and monitored by the FlourishDx workplace administrator as well as being explored by employees on an as needs basis”,

Employees can use their Flourish Profile survey results to identify priorities to maintain or optimize wellbeing, with almost two dozen evidence based activities contained within the app. There is also audio based guided meditations such as mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation to quickly address elevated stress levels.

To keep individuals engaged in the app, there is a “Mental Fitness” coach bot, that will regularly prompt workers to check in and feed them relevant information and resources suitable for their wellbeing needs, and interests.

FlourishDx is a preventative approach to mental health for workers The goal is to keep individuals well, assist to optimize wellbeing, inform workplace-wide and departmental mental health interventions, and increase the likelihood that individuals will seek professional assistance if there is a need.

 

 

 

Eisenberg, D., Hunt, J. & Speer, N. 2013. Mental health in American colleges and universities: variation across student subgroups and across campuses. J Nerv Ment Dis, 201, 60-7.