NM Parents Encouraged to Know When Kids Need Mental Health Intervention
Friday, May 5, 2023
More behavioral-health providers may be enticed to move to New Mexico after a bill passed by the Legislature this year made treatment for behavioral health and substance abuse easier to access.
Starting next year, insurance companies won't be allowed to apply limitations on these services. It comes at a time when new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the percentage of high school students who said they feel persistently "sad" or "hopeless" increased between 2011 and 2021.
Psychologist Coralanne Griffith-Hunte, a professor at Mercy College, said there are typically clear signs young people are suffering.
"Are they experiencing memory problems?" she said. "Inability to concentrate - seeing only the negative in situations? And are they saying they're having intrusive thoughts? Emotionally, are they experiencing an inability to just relax, just to be OK in situations?"
In addition to the CDC report, a New Mexico Department of Health survey showed two in five high school students, or 40%, reported feeling sad or hopeless in 2019 and one in six ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode.
Many parents blame social media for increased mental-health challenges reported by their kids, but Griffith-Hunte said it's also important that parents take an active role in listening - to help kids identify what they're feeling and build emotional resiliency.
"I say to my clients all the time, 'There's a difference between hearing - hearing means you know the song is playing - listening means you know the words of the song,'" she said.
The CDC's survey showed Hispanic and multiracial students were more likely than others to have persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Griffith-Hunte encouraged parents to learn more about the national "Sound It Out Together" campaign that offers free tools and resources to help parents and caregivers have more meaningful conversations with their kids.
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