Fighting Teenage Suicidal Thoughts with a New Facebook Tool

The US suicide rate has spiked at a 30-year high; this is troubling. This increase was in every age group–except older adults–meaning youth mental health should be under the spotlight right now. Something needs to be done to lower young adult and teenage suicidal thoughts in order to combat the rate of suicide. Facebook has taken a step towards that. The New York Times recently reported on Facebook’s new tool to help combat young adult and teenage suicidal thoughts.

How does this tool help youth & teenage suicidal thoughts?

The new suicide prevention tool on Facebook begins with a drop-down menu that gives you the ability to report if you think a post may be a sign of suicidal intentions. After this, you’re give some options to continue: either send a direct Facebook message to the friend you think may be suicidal or message a different friend to help you do it. Facebook even provides suggested examples to send in case you don’t know how to go about it. Also, after it’s flagged, someone part of Facebook’s global community operations team–which runs 24/7–assesses the post.

What happens if the operations team feels the post is a call for help?

If they get the vibe that this could potentially be a real suicidal call for help, the person who may be suicidal receives a list of options next time they get on Facebook. The list includes various tips and resources they can reach out to if they’re contemplating suicide. It urges them to seek help and reach out to those they can trust and rely on.

More needs to be done through social media to help combat this issue

Since the increase in suicides were majorly young people, social media should be one of the platforms that we focus on offering help. Even if these tools only help a few people–it’s completely worth it. Oftentimes, these youth committing suicide believe this is their only option, but these tools help them realize they do have options and those they can reach out to for help in such a miserable time. Facebook created this tool in the hope that it will make other social media platforms create tools to help combat youth and teenage suicidal thoughts.

For more information about helping your child deal with teenage suicidal thoughts, consider ViewPoint Center for help.


Misunderstanding of Tourette’s in Children Often Worse than the Syndrome

NPR recently interviewed a few people with Tourette’s syndrome about their experiences. One woman, named Jess Thom, admitted that it’s not her tics–like saying the word “biscuit” about 16,000 times a day–that makes it difficult, it’s people misunderstanding what living with Tourette’s is like. Many are diagnosed with Tourette’s at a young age–and Tourette’s in children isn’t really rare at all; around 1 in 100 young people are diagnosed with it during school. One of the main issues surrounding Tourette’s in children is bullying because many kids aren’t exposed to it and don’t understand what it means.

Tourette’s syndrome defined

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines Tourette’s syndrome as “a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.” The direct cause of Tourette’s still evades researchers, but it’s believed that it has to do with neurotransmitters have a difficult time sending communication between nerve cells. Because tics come and go in severity, Tourette’s is often misdiagnosed as something else psychological, when it’s actually neurological.

Stigma surrounding Tourette’s in children and teens

There’s a stigma surrounding Tourette’s in children and teens makes it harder for them to get through school. In the article, Michael Chichioco (a high schooler with Tourette’s syndrome) opened up about his issues with bullying earlier in school. When he was younger, peers would try to get him to have outbursts at inappropriate times because he had a rare form of Tourette’s syndrome called coprolalia, which makes him have uncontrollable outbursts of “bad” words. How did he deal with it? He tried to actively remember they didn’t know what he was going through. Now Chichioco is a youth ambassador and strives to educate others about how Tourette’s in children and youth works.

Having Tourette’s isn’t the end

As an example of someone with more than mild Tourette’s becoming successful, Jess Thom, the woman from before, has reached success in her own way. She decided she wanted to perform in theater because “it was the only seat in the theater from which she couldn’t be asked to leave.” This is because verbal and motor tics make it difficult for those with Tourette’s to go to the movies or places where someone is expected to be calm and quiet. Her live show is called Backstage in Biscuit Land and it includes her experiences living with Tourette’s syndrome.

Thom’s success story is one of many and it shows that Tourette’s in children doesn’t have to hinder their future success, they just have to do it differently.

For more information about how to help Tourette’s in children, check out Asheville Academy for Girls.

Another Celebrity Is Bringing Awareness to Youth & Teenage Anxiety

There’s a large stigma against mental illness around the world, even though around 1 in 4 people will deal with just anxiety–a common mental illness–at some point. When someone famous or respected comes out and speaks about their struggle with mental illness, it helps shrink that stigma just a little, but every bit counts. Recently, The Guardian reported on why Zayn Malik–former member of One Direction–chose to cancel his gig at the Capital Summertime Ball in England: anxiety issues. This helps bring awareness to the issue of teenage anxiety because a large majority of his fans are teens.

Experiencing the worst anxiety of his career

When explaining why he decided to cancel his gig, he opened with his struggle with anxiety when performing:

“Unfortunately, my anxiety that has haunted me throughout the last few months around live performances has gotten the better of me…With the magnitude of the event, I have suffered the worst anxiety of my career.”

And he’s not the first. Many performers and actors deal with anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. To name a few celebrities that deal with anxiety: Adele, Lena Dunham, Kristen Bell, Chris Evans, and John Mayer. These are only a few of the ones that have admitted to their struggles with mental issues, but many more most likely exist but are fearful to open up about it because of the harmful stigma attached to mental illnesses.

How this affects teenage anxiety

Specifically, anxiety usually pops up around the adolescent years, which makes it a critical time to recognize it and treat it before it runs out of control; this doesn’t often happen. Teenage anxiety isn’t a rare occurrence, as many as 1 in 4 teens will deal with teenage anxiety, but are usually afraid to open up about it–and parents are often afraid to listen. This is all due to the stigma. If there was no stigma, there would be no issue surrounding seeking out help when symptoms of anxiety begin to appear.

Celebrities like Zayn Malik help take apart that stigma. Many people idolize Zayn, which makes him influential in whether a teen may come forward about struggling or not. Though it may just encourage a few to step forward, that’s a few more than before.

For more information about getting help for teenage anxiety, check out Solstice East.

One Online Store Is on a Mission: Positive Teen Body Image

Retouch, airbrush, thinner body type, and boom–you’ve got yourself the “perfect” body that the media pushes in magazines, movies, advertisements, clothing stores, and more. This distorted view of what a “liked” body looks like is preventing young people from developing a healthy teen body image. Almost no one looks like what is portrayed everywhere, which isn’t a healthy message to send: you should look like this, but no one looks like this. It’s pushing the unattainable, which only develops a negative teen body image for the youth of the world.

Modcloth–an online clothing store–recently made a stand against the media’s unhealthy portrayal of “ideal” bodies. Modcloth is known for making clothes for all sizes and never warping a model to make them more “attractive” or “ideal”; this already sends a great message to young people looking for clothes on their website. Now, they took it one step further: they took it to Washington. Modcloth recently teamed up with a congresswoman to develop legislation that would work “to develop regulations for over airbrushing, photoshopping, or altering the appearance of people in advertisements.” The goal is to promote a healthier message for developing a positive youth or teen body image.

Teen body image and the media

The media promotes thin, dainty girls and muscled, tall boys; what message does this send to the average teen? People come in all shapes and sizes, rarely does someone look like they walked out of a billboard ad–so this weakens the positive teen body image. The “perfect” body is everywhere we go and look: our phones, on television, in the movie theater, while we’re driving–everywhere. A study from 1996, researchers found that they amount of time a teen spends watching movies, music videos, or soaps was related to a negative teen body image. Also, in a study of fifth graders, girls and boys (10 years old) reported that they felt dissatisfied with their bodies after either watching a Britney Spears music video or a piece of the TV show “Friends”.

This idea of the “perfect” body has woven itself through our daily lives, making it hard to escape–this is why it’s important for companies like Modcloth to fight against it. The company Aerie decided to stop retouching all of their photos–though they still use thin, drop-dead gorgeous models–which definitely sends a more positive message. Hopefully, Modcloth’s push for encouraging a more positive teen body image will inspire other companies to follow their example.
For more information about helping your teen have a more positive teen body image, check out Solstice East.

Self-Stigma: Fueled by the Online Stigma of Mental Health

The Online Stigma of Mental Health is Building Self-Stigma

1 in 5 people struggle with mental illness, but many of those people don’t seek help. Many people fear the idea of being diagnosis with a mental health issue. They fear the idea of seeing a counselor or therapist. But it’s not just fear that is preventing people from seeking help. The online stigma of mental health is driving people’s misconceptions of mental health. The majority of people today have a negative attitude towards mental health. The stereotypes that have developed from mental health stigmas have deem people as “crazy”, “weird”, or even “dangerous”. Due to this, people aren’t getting the help they need. Psych Central discusses new research that found the online stigma of mental health is stopping people from obtaining information and counseling for mental illnesses.

The Research Behind the Theory

Researchers conducted a study to determine how online stigma of mental health was effecting individual’s likelihood to seek help for mental health concerns. The study was designed to measure how participants responded when given the opportunity to learn more online about mental health concerns and university counseling services. 370 college students participated in the study, and out of those students only 8.7 percent clicked the link for mental health information and 9 percent sought counseling information.

College Development

Identification of mental health issues often comes during college, a time that is commonly connected to change in young adults. College is one of the most important times of development and discovering self-identity for young adults, which is why it is essential that they don’t allow the online stigma of mental health to deter them from getting help. If not handled, distress can be the fuel to self-destruction. When people don’t seek the help they need, eventually distress overpowers avoidance. Typically, by the time someone reaches a high level of distress, he or she is often struggling to function.

Recognizing the Truth of Mental Illness

Recognizing the potential of mental illness in yourself can be scary, but avoiding it due to the online stigma of mental health is not an option. Guiding yourself back from self-destruction isn’t easy. Don’t allow yourself to reach a level of distress that brings you to that point. You are not an online stigma of mental health and you are not alone.

For more information about online stigma of mental health, check out Seven Stars.

Zendaya Uses Social Media to Push Positive Body Image

In a recent interview with TIME magazine, Disney star Zendaya–known for her role in the show Shake It Up–spoke about her influence on positive body image among young people. She spoke about how determined she is to speak out about the media’s unfair portrayal of the “perfect body” and ridiculous standards for beauty. Zendaya has become a strong advocate for body positivity and forming a positive body image.

Social media can promote positive body image

As a famous, young, African-American female actress, Zendaya has faced a lot of criticism under the spotlight. She spoke about how people constantly try to bring her down through over-editing in magazines, mean comments online, criticizing her weight, and more. To tackle this issue, she uses social media. On Twitter, she has over 14.1 million followers; on Instagram, she has 6.1 million. Obviously, Zendaya has a far reach in the world of social media and young people. Instead of allowing social media to be used as a weapon, she strives to use it as a tool for benefiting the world–not tearing it down.

“Everyone has their insecurities. Even myself, as confident as I am, there are things I’m insecure about, things I worry about. But I constantly remind myself there’s a little boy or girl or grown woman out there that needs someone to look to.” –Zendaya

On social media, she’ll post long paragraphs about how important developing a positive body image is and how you shouldn’t think of the media’s portrayal as “perfect” or the only type of beauty. She spoke about how even though she has insecurities, she feels she has a responsibility to stand up for those who are being put down by the media. She wants to be a positive role model for younger kids. Although she realizes her single paragraphs most likely won’t solve the whole issue, she believes it’s a small piece of a larger puzzle and it’s her responsibility to contribute.

For more information about helping you daughter with a positive body image, check out Asheville Academy for Girls.

Sleep Deprivation Linked to Mood Changes in Teens

Teenagers’ minds and bodies are still developing until their early 20’s. To promote healthy development, they need between 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night, which is well above the normal average for adults. With technology today, getting enough sleep can be difficult. There are constant distractions available to prevent us from getting the recommended eight hours a night. Sleep deprivation can affect attention, daily functioning, and mood changes in teens. A recent article by Psych Central discusses current research that believes sleep could be affecting mood changes in teens.

Research on Sleep

Researchers believe that promoting healthy sleep among adolescents could potentially prevent the development of serious mental health problems. Research found that sleep deficits are more problematic for mood changes in teens than extra sleep. Researchers also found that teens who receive insufficient amounts of sleep show a heightened level of sadness, anger, energy, and feelings of sleepiness. A poor night’s sleep can also set up a repetitive cycle of fluctuations in sleep and mood changes in teens. The negative effects of teen sleep deprivation can create general distress. Due to this, it can actually increase issues of sleep deprivation by making it harder to fall asleep and decreasing the quality of sleep.

Misconceptions of Sleep

The negative effects of teen sleep deprivation can be detrimental to the overall well-being. Mood changes in teens and emotional dysregulation can interfere with teens social, school, and behavioral functioning. Without efficient amounts of sleep, teens ability to function and live healthy lives becomes difficult. Many teens today think that getting 5 to 6 hours of sleep is healthy, even good. Mood changes in teens is common throughout adolescence, but so is teens misconception that getting one bad night of sleep is fine.

Educating teens on the importance of getting healthy sleep could drastically change their chances of mood changes in teens and other mental illness later on in life. There are multiple tools available for teens to help them achieve sufficient, healthy sleep. Apps are now available to track sleep quality and provide soothing sounds if teens have difficulty falling asleep. Teens shouldn’t underestimate the power of sleep; it can make or break our day.

For more information about sleep deprivation and its affect on mood changes in teens, check out Elevations RTC.

That’s a First: Royal Appears in Gay Magazine to Discuss LGBT Bullying

Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry are beginning a mental health awareness campaign called “Heads Together Campaign”. To begin the campaign, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, became the first of the royal family to be interviewed and photographed for the cover of a gay magazine. In the magazine, Attitude, he spoke about LGBT bullying as a top issue in the campaign for mental illness awareness. The Guardian recently wrote an article outlining the interview.

LGBT bullying is a top issue

Prince William stressed the damage LGBT bullying can do to LGBT youth. It can cause depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and many more issues. He spoke about how those who are experiencing bullying or witnessing it need to seek out support or report it in order to help combat LGBT bullying more. In order to really get rid of bullying as a whole, people have to recognize it and not just stand by.

“No one should be bullied for their sexuality or any other reason and no one should have to put up with the kind of hate that these young people have endured in their lives. The young gay, lesbian and transgender individuals I met through Attitude are truly brave to speak out and to give hope to people who are going through terrible bullying right now. Their sense of strength and optimism should give us all encouragement to stand up to bullying wherever we see it.” –Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

In the article, statistics on LGBT suicide compared to straight young people was stark. About 34 percent of LGB young people and more than 48 percent of transgender youth have already attempted suicide once, while around 18 percent of straight youth have attempted. We need to work harder to get those numbers much lower–and part of that is through combating LGBT bullying and creating a more understanding environment.

If your son or daughter is struggling with effects from LGBT bullying, it’s extremely important to seek out professional guidance on how to move forward to help your child. Check out Elevations RTC to get help for LGBT bullying issues.

Clearing Up Rules for ADHD Children Helps Them Succeed

In a recent article by Psych Central, a new study conducted by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) revealed that unspoken or unclear rules are especially difficult for ADHD children to understand. It showed that ADHD children often have a hard time seeing when a situation’s tone changes, like from play-time to test-time. Researchers think this is part of the reason ADHD children are often labeled as “trouble-makers” or called out for inappropriate behavior.

How clear, explained rules help ADHD children

The underlying issues for ADHD children is that they don’t see the subtle nuances or changes in situations. So it’s difficult for a child with ADHD to recognize or understand why it’s breaking the “rules” in a situation; for example, let’s say the class goes from play-time to quiet-time, but an ADHD child may not see the change, they may continue to play and then get in trouble. This is all because it wasn’t fully explained to them that it’s time to calm down, that play-time has ended.

So, how do teachers and parents help this? By explaining it to ADHD children.

“So, we are not relying on them to identify what the conditions are, but we are actually explicitly telling them: this is what you will be rewarded for. And we also need to tell them when we are no longer going to reward them for that.” –Professor Gail Tripp, Director of the Human Developmental Neurobiology Unit at OIST

In the study, it was revealed that when someone specifically laid out the unspoken changes for ADHD children, the children understood what was happening and adjusted their behavior. This shows that they know how to change their behavior, they just don’t see when they need to.

It’s not spoiling them

Explaining the rules clearly and making wiggle room for those with a disorder like ADHD isn’t spoiling them, it’s leveling the playing field. It’s giving an ADHD child the chance to excel and adjust to an environment, kids without ADHD just don’t often need that extra help to do so. It was also found that rewarding correct behavior helps ADHD children start to recognize changes in “rules” more easily. The rewards are only until an ADHD child gets acclimated, you slowly wean them off the rewards for the best results. Being clear and rewarding good behavior are great ways to parent anyway, but it’s especially helpful for ADHD children.
For more information about helping ADHD children succeed, check out Seven Stars.

Parenting Tips: Improving Self-Esteem in Teens

Causes of Low Self-Esteem and Techniques for Improving Self-Esteem in Teens

In high school, teens develop a more concrete sense of their self-image and self-worth. It is not uncommon for teens to have issues with low self-esteem or self-image. Teens can develop self-esteem issues due to a variety of reasons. As a parent, it is important to know common causes of low self-esteem and ways of improving self-esteem in teens. The Huffington Post recently discussed some of the main causes of self-esteem issues and options available for improving self-esteem in teens.

Causes of Low Self-Esteem

While causes of low self-esteem often vary, there have been shared common themes found in individuals with low self-esteem. Well known causes of low self-esteem consist of academic issues, problems at home, experiences of trauma, bullying, or negative influences from media. Identifying where self-esteem issues are coming from is the first step to improving self-esteem in teens. If these issues are not resolved at an early age, they often result to becoming lifelong problems.

Teens who are struggling at school and do not receive support at home or in the classroom, are at a greater risk for developing self-esteem issues. They often feel like they cannot succeed or “stupid” and have to deal with these issues alone. Teens who suffer from bullying, being teased, or put down often develop low self-esteem and self-image. Teens who are bullied begin to internalize messages from bullies and often start to believe they deserve being mistreated.

Experiences of trauma can also create poor self-esteem and self-image. Teens who have been abused in some way often feel personally responsible and that they deserved the abuse. Today’s media also plays a large role in teens low self-esteem issues. Media is promoting unrealistic body images and social standards that often make teens feel like failures. They cannot achieve the same things as celebrities so they feel ugly or unpopular. If these issues aren’t dealt with or discussed, many individuals are often plagued with self-esteem issues throughout the rest of their life.

Support for Improving Self-Esteem in Teens

Many teens suffering from self-esteem issues don’t understand how they’re feeling or if there’s help available. Parents, advisors, and peers can play a huge role in improving self-esteem in teens. Providing support and talking to individuals can have the most substantial effect on improving self-esteem in teens. Methods for improving self-esteem in teens include, face to face therapy, articles on building self-esteem, and developing new networks or social support systems through extracurricular activities. Improving self-esteem in teens often comes from them having support and understanding they are not alone when dealing with these issues.

For more information about improving self esteem in teens, check out BlueFire Wilderness.