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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #MentalHealth Monday: Talking To Your #Kids About #MentalHealth

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In young #kids, feelings like #anxiety or #depression can be expressed differently. James Desta explains, “Because they don’t really have the words to express it…”

Author: Sydney Stallworth

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — We ask strangers all the time, “How are you?”. But, when’s the last time you asked your family these questions– particularly, your #kids. 

Some #parents assume they know how their #kids feel. Some think it’s not appropriate to talk to their young #kids about topics like #mentalhealth.  

Well, we’re getting rid of that #stigma and telling you how to start the conversation on this week’s ‘#MentalHealthMonday’. 

We met with James Desta, a Licensed Professional Counselor with Longwood Psychological Center in Huntsville. He tells us, “I’ve seen people as young as four. I’ve seen them as old as ninety-something.” 

In young kids, feelings like #anxiety or #depression can be expressed differently. James Desta explains, “Because they don’t really have the words to express it, a lot of the time, what they’re feeling comes out physically.”

These feelings could be expressed with changes in #behavior, refusal to follow instructions, feelings of #anxiety can even be expressed as something like a stomach ache. 

If you think you don’t need to talk to your #kids about #mentalhealth, you’re wrong. 

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

In 2018, suicide was already the second leading cause of death in young people ages 10-19. Though the changes haven’t been constant, we’ve seen increases in #suicide attempts and ideation during the #pandemic in young people. 

James tells us, “If you’re feeling uncomfortable about having a conversation with your kid… If you are feeling as if there is a topic that is a little sensitive to approach with them, I’m just going to invite you to ask yourself, is that uneasiness because of how they’re going to react or because of your emotional experience? How often are we avoiding things because they’re going to make us uncomfortable and not necessarily because of how our kids will handle it?” 

James Desta counsels people of all ages. But, he specializes in treating young people. He encourages #parents of his clients to stop shying away from the conversation. The most important thing you can do is ask– and then, listen. 

Try starting with something like this:  

James explains, “‘I want to let you know this is going to pass and it’s going to be okay. I’m right here for you and I’m right here with you. So, would it be okay to talk about that right now, what’s happening right now, or do you need to wait until a little bit later?’ See, even in that moment when they’re afraid, you’ve connected with ‘Hey, you’re afraid, I get it.’… You’re helping them feel understood and accepted, which is the connection part of this and then you’re offering them a choice even when there’s not one. You’re going to talk about this. But, it’s ‘Hey, do you want to do this right now, or later?

Local and national help is for people struggling with #mentalhealthissues or who may be contemplating #suicide. If you’re thinking about #suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, help is available by phone, text, or chat. 

#NationalSuicidePreventionHotline 800-273-8255 1-800-273-TALK

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