TYLER, Texas (KETK)- Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, a national campaign called Sound it Out has been launched to help spark up healthy conversations about the mental state of children using the power of music.
Statistics show mental health problems in school-aged kids have spiked amid the pandemic. Youth emergency room visits for this have increased by 31%.
An assistant professor of psychiatry at UT Health says mental health of middle school aged children in East Texas mirrors other trends in kids across the nation. Especially with the pandemic, many young people are struggling with isolation and extra stress. These additional factors are piled on top of the normal anxieties that affect children.
“At that age group they’re trying to find themselves. They’re trying to figure out what friend groups they want to belong to. They’re trying to figure out what does it mean to be a good friend. Do I have a good friend here versus not? You know, they’re just trying to learn how to function in social situations. So, having an adult they can trust and talk to will make a world of a difference for their mental health.”Dr. Tiya Johnson, Professor of Psychiatry UT Health
The Sound it Out campaign is releasing public service announcements and original songs by popular creators. These songs and information are inspired by actual conversations with kids working through their mental health.
This effort is intended to give parents and children content to engage in conversations around their emotional wellbeing. The campaign places an emphasis on reaching parents and caregivers in the Black and Hispanic communities. Organizers say these groups are specifically focused on because of, “the additional trauma of systematic racism and greater challenges in accessing the support they need.”
Sound it Out hopes these resources will help parents and caregivers have more meaningful conversations with their middle schoolers surrounding this difficult topic.
“We know as our young people mature between that 10 to 14 year period, there’s a lot going on with them developmentally, and it’s moving really rapidly. We want to get in early having those conversations about mental health and emotional well-being because the kids are going to be dealing with these things. Especially, in the context of the pandemic and coming out of quarantine and that type of thing. So, we’re trying to equip parents with the language and skills, right. Actual skills set in how to begin conversations about a very taboo subject with his mental health.”Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble, Mental Health Expert Sound It Out Campaign
Johnson says engaging with your children on their current social media platforms is a great way to check in with how they are feeling and see where their mental health is. Mental health can have a negative stigma, and local experts say a lot of complaints that come from kids are often minimized or pushed aside. This is because children look to their parents for so much at this age. It is important to have these difficult conversations often.
Parents and caregivers can click here to find resources to guide these conversations.
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