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Four things you can do to support your teen’s mental health

Show your teenager love and care, while looking after yourself.

Read the original article here.

Whether you and your teen are getting along well or having challenges, it is important to show that you love and support them, that you can help them navigate tough times and that you are always there for them. Here are four things to keep in mind when having that ‘how-are-you-doing?’ conversation with your teen and to show that you are always there for them.

  1. Encourage them to share their feelings
  • Look for ways to check in with your teen. Ask them how their day has been and what they have been doing. It could be by inviting them to join you in a task, such as preparing dinner, so you can use the time to chat about their day.
  • Remind them that you are there for them, no matter what, and that you want to hear how they are feeling and what they are thinking. A few simple words of encouragement can help them feel comfortable sharing their feelings with you.
  • It is important to acknowledge and understand emotions they might be experiencing, even if it feels uncomfortable. When they open up to you, you can respond with “I understand”, “it sounds like a difficult situation” or “that makes sense”.
  • It can be easy to notice the things your teen is doing that you do not like. But also try to notice and praise them for something they are doing well — even something simple like cleaning up after themselves.

>> Read more about positive discipline and its benefits

  1. Take the time to support them
  • Work together on setting up new routines and achievable daily goals. You could fit in home chores around school work or set a target like getting homework done before dinner.
  • Adolescence means independence! Try to give your teen the appropriate time and space to be on their own. Needing space is a normal part of growing up.
  • Find a few ways you can support and encourage your teen to take breaks (from schoolwork, housework, or other activities they may be working on) to do things they enjoy. If your teen feels frustrated, work with them to brainstorm some solutions to problems. Try not to take over and tell them what to do.
  1. Work through conflict together
  • Listen to your teen’s views and try to sort out conflict calmly. Remember: everyone gets stressed!
  • Never discuss an issue while you are angry. Walk away, take a breath and calm down — you can talk with your teen about it later.
  • Avoid power struggles. With the world feeling unpredictable and options looking limited right now, teens might be struggling to be in control. As difficult as it can be in the moment, empathize with their desire to assert control in a scary time, rather than attempting to fight back or overpower it.
  • Be honest and transparent with your teen: you can let them know that you are experiencing extra stress as well. Showing them how you deal with your own difficult feelings can help them know their feelings are okay.
  • When there is conflict, take some time to reflect on how you and your teen can resolve it. You can discuss these reflections with your teen, so they see how you are processing ideas.
  1. Care for yourself

Caregivers have a lot to deal with. You also need care and support for yourself. Showing self-care is also a good way of modelling the practice to your teen.

  • Don’t wait to ask others for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. It is normal and okay to feel this way. Find a family member or someone you can talk to.
  • Make time for your own relationships. Try to find a few people that you can share feelings and experiences with. Set aside some time with them each day, to check in on how you are feeling.
  • Make time in your day to do the things that help you cope with and manage stress. Whether your day is busy or slow, we know that making time to look after yourself is essential for your wellbeing. Doing the things you like or simply taking a few minutes off from your day can help you feel relaxed and re-energized.
  • Try different positive coping strategies that work for you. Some ideas include: exercising, talking with friends, making to-do lists or planning ahead, maintaining routines and structures, reflecting on what you are grateful for or proud of, and doing things you enjoy like music, art, dancing and keeping a journal.

Messages in this guide developed by the Inter-agency Standing Committee Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Reference Group.

Time to Adopt an Enchancing Mindset to Improve Mental Health During Isolation

Read the original article here.
by  | Apr 21, 2020 | 

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has gripped the world with apprehension. Our brains are on overdrive. We are constantly dealing with an invisible threat because we don’t know who is infected. Anyone could infect us. We don’t know how bad it will get or how long it will last. It’s a global threat; no community is safe.  Many amongst us are reckoning with individual losses, such as illness and death– or loss of employment as a result of economic upheaval–or communal grief as we watch our healthcare, education and economic systems destabilize. All this is changing the way we see and perceive threat.

Princeton’s Angus Deaton, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for economics, coined the term “deaths of despair,” referring to fatal consequences associated with unemployment. He blamed the recently increased rates of suicide, drug overdose and alcohol-related liver disease on the changing economic situation. Every 1% increase in unemployment leads to a 3.5 % increase in opioid addiction. With the ongoing pandemic, we are seeing alcohol and drug use on the rise. Because the virus attacks the lungs, it poses a serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana; aerosols harm the lung and diminish the ability to respond to infection. COVID-19 endangers people with opioid use disorder and methamphetamine use disorders. Having a respiratory disease while abusing opioids increases the risk of overdose, due to diminished lung functioning. Methamphetamine constricts the blood vessels in the lungs, compounding the damage caused by the virus.

The gift of olfaction is one of the joys of life, which most of us take for granted. Food is more than just fuel; it is also one of the greatest pleasures in life. The madeleine memories triggered by food are involuntary. Losing one’s sense of smell and taste—as can occur with COVID-19 can be a huge emotional loss. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery recently proposed that anosmia (loss of smell) with resultant dysgeusia (change in taste) be added to the list of screening tools for COVID-19.

The link between acute respiratory infections and mental disorders has been known since at least the SARS epidemic a few years ago. A year after that occurred, more than 40% of the survivors had mental problems, even though their physical symptoms had improved. The survivors experienced symptoms related to PTSD, depression, somatoform pain disorder (chronic pain due to psychological factors), and OCD.

It is sometimes necessary to deprive people of their liberty for the wider public good, but this is often contentious. “Quarantine” was first used in Venice in 1127 with regards to leprosy. People who are in the quarantine may experience confusion, anger, boredom, and loneliness. Being quarantined in the company of a household member exhibiting symptoms, such as cough and fever, can worsen anxiety. Akin to stigma once associated with leprosy, COVID-19 has exacerbated xenophobia, hate and exclusion.

The global medical community is experiencing unbearable stress, knowing many COVID-19 patients die alone. Sadly, when patients infected with COVID-19 enters the hospital, dies, and gets transferred to a make-shift morgue, almost no relatives can be with them. Patients, day in and day out, beg to say “goodbye” to their close relatives, while gasping for air. COVID-19 has killed over 100 doctors and nurses around the world. Some healthcare workers have died by suicide.  Some have had no time to process emotions due to the escalating number of cases. Some dread acquiring the virus while working in dangerous settings. Some are frightened of having to decide who gets a ventilator or an ICU bed. Some are being asked to live on less money despite increasing work demands. Many are putting the health of their own families at risk, and are being shunned by others for fear they are contagious. All these factors, and others, are emotionally burdening our health care workers.

Stressful times like the present evoke a variety of reactions within us, many of which are natural responses to difficult situations. Displaying resilience, which is the ability to bounce back, cope with adversity, and endure during a difficult situation is ordinary, not extraordinary. For centuries people have regularly demonstrated this ability. Please be cognizant of the fact that the world has survived several notable pandemics, including the Black Death, Spanish flu, and human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). Using supportive resources to address stress and other hardships is a critical component of resilience.

Psychological first aid (PFA) is a crucial early intervention that focuses on mental health of the affected survivors by providing psychosocial support during outbreaks. The Johns Hopkins PFA tool consists of the ‘RAPID’ model. It is an acronym standing for Reflective listening, such as paraphrasing with empathy; Assessment of the current presentation, primarily assessing cognitive capacity, affective expression, social adaptability, interpersonal resources and readiness for intervention; Psychological triage, prioritizing attending to severe versus mild reactions; Intervention, using cognitive and behavioral interventions to mitigate acute distress; and Disposition, consideration of next steps, including facilitation of access to ongoing care.

Many amongst us develop mental myopia during stressful times, meaning we allow one major facet of today’s reality to occlude our view from the totality of human existence. At this vital moment in history, we can either let the pandemic-induced stress make lyrics of a Pink Floyd song, Time, “shorter of breath and one day closer to death” come true or adopt a stress-is-enhancing mindset, which can have positive consequences related to improved health and work performance.