This week on WCLK's The Local Take(Saturdays 8am), I reached out to EMBARK and Dr. Sharnell Myles to ask her about our children and their mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
The last year has been challenging for everyone, but we're learning that it has been especially hard on young people, teens, and children. The closure of schools and the pandemic's uncertainty caused many to feel anxious, fear and worry. Some signs include unhealthy sleep and eating habits, lack of social structure, and research showed an increase in suicidal risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between April and October 2020, hospital emergency departments saw a rise in the share of total visits that were from kids for mental health needs. Dr. Sharnell Myles, welcome to The Local Take.
Dr. Myles shares that mental health challenges in teens are often missed due to a lack of verbalization. Usually due to the stigma around seeking help for mental health challenges. She speaks about some of the signs that may indicate a teen in trouble, including – self-isolation, changes in sleep or eating habits, irritability, and acting out.
She shares statistics to provide context. 1 in 12 teens will attempt suicide. 1 in 6 high school students considers suicide. Suicide is the second cause of death for those aged 10 -24.
I asked if we have failed our children during the upheaval of the pandemic. Dr. Myles says that we weren't prepared. There were no contingency plans in place for a school system shut-down.
For the most part, she says that adults said "the children will adjust," "children are resilient," and while that may be true, children and teens still need care.
I ask about finding a culturally sensitive therapist for adults and the challenge facing young people. She speaks about the need for more African-Americans to consider mental health as a career. She says that for her, it was a calling. She has worked in the field for over 25 years as a trauma specialist.
For more information on Dr. Sharnell Myles
For more information on local mental health services