Mental Health & Our Youth Podcast
Lifeline expert, Lalaine (Lala) Oliveria, LMFT, is featured on The Classical Academies Podcast and shares insight and tips for parents when addressing their youth's mental health. Lalaine (Lala) Oliveria has been in the mental health field for over 15 years, with the last 5 years focused on suicide prevention.
Now, more than ever, we are experiencing increased stress, grief, anxiety, and isolation. Lalaine (Lala) Oliveria is a licensed marriage and family therapist with North County Lifeline. She explains how shifts in normal behavior, such as withdrawal, irritability, anger, and mood changes, can be signs of depression or even precursors to suicidal ideation. Lala shares when to be concerned, how to have tough conversations, and provides recommendations such as listening to understand and validate feelings.
Being a youth during this time is tough, an increase in stress, grief, trauma, isolation, and bullying through social media is prevalent. Lala explains that parents can help their youth who may be struggling with mental health in the following ways:
- Start the conversation.
- Show you sincerely care.
- Listen carefully (listening to understand not to respond).
- Provide a safe space.
- Being genuine.
- Do not being afraid to ask tough questions.
- Talk openly about suicide and depression.
- Focus your concern on the youth's well-being.
- Use body language to show you are present.
- Validate the youth's feelings (active listening) Ex: “I can see how that can make you feel that way.”
Key warning signs for parents to be aware of in their youth may include:
- Changed relationships
- Increased irritability
- Withdrawl or display of sadness
- Themes of death or suicide in writing, social media posts, or music
- Lack of interest in things that they once enjoyed
- Loss of motivation or enthusiasm
- Be aware of what is normal vs. not normal for your youth. Take note of major changes in mood or behavior because depression is unique to the individual.
Urgent warning signs may include:
- The youth directly expresses taking their life with an actionable plan.
- The youth expressing things like: "I want to sleep forever and never wake up."
- Giving away their possessions
Potential triggers for youth that parents can avoid may include:
- Be mindful, acknowledge family history (Ex: has anyone in their family struggled with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation before?)
- Consider the youth’s history (Ex: have there been any recent diagnosis, instances of bullying, substance abuse, increased sense of hopelessness, etc.)
- LGBTQIA+ youth are 4x more at risk for suicide attempts.
- Ask intentional questions that are strengths-based
- What thoughts are you having?
- How often do you have these thoughts?
- How do you cope when you have those thoughts?
How can parents take action when they are concerned about their youth?
- Never leave them alone.
- Schedule an assessment for the youth right away by their health care physician or PERTH.
- Explore treatment options and follow-up.
- For those who are uninsured, try to get connected to long-term services (there is a waitlist for some youth).
- Help reduce the stigma against therapy including cultural stigmas to mental health and therapy.
While caring for youth, how can adults take care of themselves?
- Self-care is non-negotiable
- Self-care is responses and actions we do for ourselves.
- Create daily healthy coping skills (deep breaths, meditating).
- Implement mindfulness and grounding techniques.
- Focus on your strengths & what nourishes you.