Mental health is having its moment. It seems, everywhere you look there are testimonials and statements about prioritizing our mental health and invitations to better ourselves. This wave of affirmation is helping to normalize conversations about mental health, creating a safe space for those who are struggling to seek out therapeutic resources and tools.
So, we sat down with Kelly Redican, prevention specialist with the Canyons School District, for a Connect Canyons interview about some of the tools and resources available right here at the District.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in six children will experience a mental health condition at any time. NAMI also found 50 percent of all life-long mental health conditions begin before the age of 14, and 75 percent before the age of 24.
Numbers like these are why the District is implementing more mental health screening nights throughout the year for students, ages 10-18, and their parents. This year there will be seven mental health screening nights at different schools each time. “It’s so people don’t feel like they have to travel too far,” says Redican, “that they have an opportunity, maybe, at their own school or a school that’s near their home.”
The screenings are free of charge, but registration is required in advance. Parents can sign up for any time slot that fits their schedule. Once they arrive for their scheduled appointment, parents will complete a questionnaire outlining their concerns and any questions they may have. Students will complete a Terrace Metric Survey, which assesses how to address the particular mental health issues they may be facing. The assessment tool looks at everything from resilience, to anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
“It tells us where the kids are sitting mental health wise, as far as if they’re at risk maybe for bullying or if they’re at risk for suicide or at risk for depression or anxiety,” Redican says.
The family then sits down with a trained mental health professional to go over parent concerns and review the student’s survey. Redican says there are times these surveys bring to light issues parents weren’t even aware of. “Everyone that was screened this last school year, almost half of those students were at risk for potential suicide or suicidal ideation,” says Redican.
Mental health issues have increased in young people since the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the nation, 11 percent —roughly three-million-youth —have admitted to having serious thoughts about suicide, up to two percent percent going so far as to attempt suicide in the past year.
Some parents may already have concerns, maybe you’ve seen changes in your child’s behavior? “You kind of get a gut feeling if you know it’s something outside of the normal scope,” Redican says, “and some kids are having a hard time, maybe opening up about those feelings with their parents.”
Other parents may worry if they bring up the idea, it will plant a seed in their child’s mind and be more harmful than good. Redican says it’s better to open the line of communication with your child, even if they may push back. “If they feel that you’re opening up about something and you have the willingness to listen to them,” Redican says, “once they get there, they realize that it is something that could be helpful to them because they’re answering questions that they might not even be aware of some of the issues that they are internally struggling with.”
Redican also says not to worry about whether you have the answers your child might be looking for, and to share with your child that you may not have the answer but you’ll find one together. She also recommends paying attention to what they do and listening to what they say. “What they’re exposed to with social media and all the ups and downs that go with that as well can be really difficult.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found children who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of mental health issues. The department also found teenagers are spending an average of three-and-a-half hours on social media each day.
“You know your kids better than anyone,” says Redican. “It’s just understanding them and where they come from, and how you best have communicated with them in the past because they don’t all communicate the same.”
The District has a number of resources available for families. Redican recommends scheduling a visit with your school’s social worker or school counselor. The Canyons Family Center has a variety of aids for families on different topics. The District also provides a number of parenting classes as well as classes for anxiety and Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
If you’re concerned about a classmate or another child and feel they may not be getting enough support from home, you can reach the new national suicide hotline by calling or texting 988 or send a confidential tip through the SafeUT crisis and safety app, which is monitored all day, every day by the University of Utah’s Huntsman Mental Health Institute. “You could anonymously text the SafeUT line,” Redican says, “and it goes straight to that school, and then they might meet with that student to address the issues that came up.”
The SafeUT app is free and has other resources for parents and students alike.
Redican says she hopes the expanding resources within the District, like the mental health screening nights, will help to destigmatize the topic of mental health and put the focus on getting parents and students the support they need.
CSD Mental Health Screening Nights
Sept. 21 – Albion Middle School, 2755 Newcastle Drive, Sandy
Oct. 26 – Mount Jordan Middle School, 9351 Mountaineer Lane, Sandy
Nov. 30 – Midvale Middle School, 7852 S. Pioneer St., Midvale
Jan. 25 – Union Middle School, 615 E. 8000 S., Sandy
Feb 22 – Indian Hills Middle School, 1180 E. Sanders Road, Sandy
March 21 – Draper Park Middle School, 13133 S. 1300 E., Draper
April 25 – Butler Middle School, 7530 S. 2700 E., Cottonwood Heights
To sign up for a time, click here.
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