By Tim DeWeese
Director, Johnson County Mental Health
Our ultimate aim should be to promote student well-being, prevent the development and/or worsening of mental health problems, and improve the effectiveness of education. This is dependent on our ability to connect young people and their families to the most appropriate level of supportive care, resulting in children realizing their potential. Research tells us that early intervention can positively change the mental health trajectories for children at risk of mental illness.
Before we talk about what can be done to best address the mental health issues within our community, we must first understand our role in the problem and the impact it’s having on our children. We need to understand the issues impacting our kids and their health. As adults, we ignite young people’s drive for success, but perhaps through all the encouragement to be the best, we don’t teach them how to deal with the failure that they inevitably will encounter in life.
Protective factors are also the same in all corners of the world. High self-esteem, social connectedness, problem-solving skills, supportive family and friends are all examples of factors that buffer against suicide and suicidal behaviors.
The former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy says “There is good reason to be concerned about social connection in our current world. Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.”
- Technology has created flexibility but often reduce the opportunities for in-person interaction and relationships.
- Loneliness is the subjective feeling of having inadequate social connections.
- The challenge is for us to address the diseases of despair by building authentic human relationships.
- Building connections that are the foundation of strong and healthy community.
When kids are transitioning into a new routine or a new school, they can really benefit from getting an appropriate amount of sleep and eating healthy foods. Taking care of their physical health helps them respond to the emotional stress change usually brings.
Visit https://www.jocogov.org/dept/mental-health/home to learn more about Johnson County Mental Health and the agency’s programs and services.