HAMBURG, NY (WKBW) – “Growing up is very challenging and there are a lot of things kids have to deal with,” said Ann Constantinou, President and CEO of Horizon Health.
Children’s health experts have issued an urgent warning that the children’s mental health crisis is a “national emergency”.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association say they are seeing “high rates of mental health challenges” among children and teens.
“Being a teenager is hard to deal with, but especially when you’re young and still trying to figure out who you are,” explained Michaela Nonley, a freshman at Hilbert College.
Health professionals say it is a “worsening crisis” linked to the tension that the COVID-19 pandemic has bought into and the ongoing struggle for racial justice.
There has been a significant rise in adolescent mental health and substance use disorders and has worsened during the pandemic.
But the topic “The state of mental health today for high school students” took center stage at Hilbert College in Hamburg on Friday.
District high school advisors gathered to hear experts on emerging trends and how to help students.
“Students are coming to school under increasing pressure, and the pandemic has accelerated that,” said Mark Veronica, chief counselor for Western New York High School.
Constantinou, of Horizon Health, served as a keynote speaker on Friday.
“There is no beginning and no end to what affects our children. Constantino suggested that our role is to be available and open and to know when to get extra help.
Constantino explained that it is important for school counselors to offer empathy and empathy to students, even if they are dealing with bad behavior.
“They’re kind of striking on a case by case basis,” Constantino noted. “But it’s very important to remember if we’re responding with kindness and empathy, which these counselors do all the time — it really helps open the door to healing and wellness.”
Depression, anxiety, and even bullying are three major factors that high school students deal with when it comes to their mental health.
“Kids are connected to social media a lot and I think it creates a false image of health and happiness and many kids don’t know how to deal with that,” Constantino discussed.
“I struggled with depression all my high school,” Nonley explained.
Nonley says she tells me she has dealt with her mental health issues.
“It certainly took a lot of learning to just be happy with myself,” Nonley replied. “We don’t really learn in high school how to grow, per se. I think we’re trying to figure that out ourselves.”
Veronica stated, “I think the students’ stress level is absolutely high.”
Veronica said the students are dealing with a number of pressures.
Veronica replied, “There’s all this pressure in society and social conflict going on in the world and health concerns.”
But for now, while Maykayla is spending her first year in college, she says she is managing her mental health.
“I feel like I have nothing to hide here. I feel like I can be exactly what I want to be and have the support coming from all angles,” Nonelli reversed.
Important phone numbers
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, the following resources are available 24/7:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Services (Local) 3131-834-716
- Transient Life Line 1-877-565-8860
- Trans Lifeline Canada 1-877-330-6366