Before mobile connectivity, texting, and social media became a primary artery of communication for young and old alike, mental health issues were considered something that happened only to some “flawed individuals”. It is no surprise that the resulting stigma of mental wellness issues associated with digital toxicity today has been so difficult to overcome in this first generation of parenting with devices in the hands of youth.
In this regard, we have learned much about the human condition over the past ten years through the sciences of the brain, trauma, addiction, treatment, recovery, and faith. And these sciences validate a simple truth that human beings of all ages are vulnerable to believing and acting on thoughts and experiences that inspire anti-social behavior (withdrawal, anger, depression, and anxiety). At the same time, humans possess inherent powers of self-determination for recovery and resilience in a safe community.
The most important life skill a child can learn, therefore, is to take charge of the thoughts that define their life story or narrative. Where children choose to give their attention and what thoughts they choose to agree with about themselves and other people in their lived experiences is their power. In order to help youth maintain a measure of peace in their own mental states, it helps to get curious (not judgmental) about two things:
- How are your child’s online experiences informing your child about their inherent value and sense of belonging at home, in their peer community, and in their community at large? They are the experts about their childhood and teen years experiences. Until they choose to share with you the things that disturb their peace and/or bring them joy, you cannot know it nor can you help them address it in a healthy way.
- How does your child’s digitally informed world view align with your family values and their core identity as a beloved and trustworthy person in your home?
Last week Michele Zavoras, Access and Community Outreach Liaison for Sutter Health Center for Psychiatry, spoke at the steering committee meeting of the Coalition for Auburn and Lincoln Youth in Auburn last week. She is an advocate for mental health treatment and shares how her own experience with a child who suffered from mental illness inspires her to encourage folks to get educated and seek treatment as a hopeful endeavor. Below are some of the signs she shared that your child or a loved one may be suffering and in need of assessment and treatment:
- Feeling very sad/withdrawn for more than two weeks (crying regularly, fatigued, unmotivated)
- Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason (sometimes with a racing heart, physical discomfort or fast breathing)
- Intense worries/fears that get in the way of daily activities (hanging out with friends or going to classes)
- Sudden difficulty in concentrating or staying still
- Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits (waking up early and/or acting agitated)
- Severe mood swings
- Not eating, throwing up/using laxatives to lose weight (significant weight loss/gain)
- Out–of-control, risk-taking behaviors (can cause harm to self or others)
- Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
- Trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so
If you suspect these types of issues have become a dominant part of your child’s current experience, contact Michele Zavoras, firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information.
To schedule two 90-minute sessions to improve the communication with tech-savvy youth so critical to mental wellness, contact Joanna.
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device.
Peace on earth begins with peace at home.
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Core Connectivity is an initiative of Banana Moments Foundation. When you shop at Amazon via AmazonSmile, Amazon will make a donation to Banana Moments Foundation.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.