Many parents support adolescent mental health programs helping teens in schools: survey – Consumer Health News


TUESDAY January 19, 2021 (HealthDay News) – It may take a village to support adolescent mental health, whether during the pandemic or beyond.

One option is to have school-based mental health programs that offer peer support leaders.

A new national survey from CS Mott Children’s Hospital on children’s health in Michigan Medicine found that one in three parents strongly supports a peer support program. The survey also asked questions that are central to the pros and cons of this type of program.

“Peers can be a valuable support to teens struggling with emotional issues because they can relate to each other,” said Mott Poll Co-Director Sarah Clark. “Some teens may worry that their parents are overreacting or not understanding what they are going through. Teachers and school counselors may also have little time to talk to students amid other responsibilities.”

Teen mental health is a big issue, with one in five teens showing symptoms of a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression, according to a press release from Michigan Medicine. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents.

Previous research suggests that up to half of children and teens with a treatable mental health disorder do not receive help due to several barriers. Even teens who don’t have a diagnosed illness can experience occasional problems that can increase their risk of developing depression.

And three-quarters of parents surveyed believed peers could better understand teens’ challenges, compared to teachers or school counselors. The majority also agreed that peer support leaders at school would encourage more teens to talk to someone about their mental health issues.

About 38% believe that if their own teenager was struggling with a mental health issue, they would likely talk to a peer support manager. Another 41% said it was “possible”.

The poll, reported Jan. 18, included responses from 1,000 parents of American teens between the ages of 13 and 18.

Teens who serve as mentors in these programs are trained and supervised by other school or mental health professionals, and are available by appointment or referral, according to the press release.

“We’ve seen good examples of school programs that prepare teens to be good listeners and to identify the warning signs of suicide or other serious problems,” Clark said.

“The role of peer support mentors is to listen, suggest problem-solving strategies, share information about resources and, where appropriate, encourage fellow students to seek help. The most essential task is to detect signs that suggest that the student has immediate needs. attention, and to alert the adults overseeing the program, ”she explained.

“While this does not replace the need for professional support, these programs provide a non-threatening way for young people to start solving their problems,” added Clark.

Parents ‘concerns included whether a peer would keep adolescents’ information confidential, whether the peer leader would know when and how to inform adults of a problem, including in a crisis, and whether adolescents can be trained to. provide that kind of support.

About two in three parents would allow their teens to be trained as peer support leaders, but half of the parents wondered if there would be enough training and their teen might feel responsible if something was wrong. bad happened to a student using the program.

“Building strong relationships with knowledgeable adults is an essential part of any school-based peer mental health program, especially when it comes to suicide prevention,” said Mr. Clark.

More information

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on adolescent mental health.

SOURCE: Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan, press release, January 18, 2021

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