By guest blogger Gene Beresin, MD, MA
In today’s public health landscape, mental health concerns among young people are widespread and growing. Data show that 1 in 4 individuals will have a mental health condition, with 50% beginning before age 14, and 75% by age 26. The COVID-19 pandemic will also have a tremendous impact on young people due to isolation, increased levels of fear and anxiety, household stressors, and more.
The good news is, research and clinical evidence show that mental health conditions are preventable and highly amenable to treatment, especially when identified early.
Adults in a young person’s life – including parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, clergy, and other caregivers – are in a unique and valuable position to both monitor the social, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development of the kids in their lives, and to help guide their optimal development through secure and trustworthy relationships.
When parents and other adults know what to look for, when to worry, and what to do, they are in a much better position to foster good mental health and help build resilience. Education is key, and knowledge is power, when it comes to adults helping the young people in their lives. The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is devoted to promoting and supporting the mental, emotional and behavioral well-being of young people by providing innovative online education geared to parents, caregivers, all adults who work with children, teens and young adults.
Leading issues that that impact youth include depression, stress, anxiety, use of digital media, the role of body image on identity, as well as stressful situations such as cyberbullying, sexual assault, school shootings or other acts of terrorism. We provide clear explanations of the signs and symptoms of psychiatric and learning disorders, when to obtain a psychiatric evaluation, how to manage kids at home, and the kinds of treatments that work.
The Clay Center places emphasis on building and fostering resilience, which is so important to preventing hardship and helping kids to cope with adversity when they face it. Resilience, after all, is not an inborn trait but a skill set that is learned in life through engagement with others and increased awareness of our own strengths and weaknesses.
Our free online resources offer multi-media formats, including a blog with over 300 posts, a podcast series, and short videos and films. Our material is presented in common, everyday language and relatable stories. All resources are evidence-based, backed by scientific research and seasoned clinical experience, and whenever possible we offer clear tips and guidelines that can be used in a variety of settings.
In the digital age, it is easy for anyone to search the internet for information and advice. Yet, it’s very hard to know what is valid and reliable. The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds’ free, online educational library is trustworthy, vetted by experts, and based on current knowledge.
Supporting the emotional and mental health of the young people in our lives is no easy feat, but we live by the motto that, together, “We can manage this.” Please visit our website at www.mghclaycenter.org, or our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/mghclaycenter. Please also share this with others who work with young people.