EARLY YEARS: Campaign aims to help parents talk to children about mental health struggles

May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Psychologist Dr. Charmain Jackman says parents need to engage kids in conversation to see how they're really doing
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 5:26 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - “We really want to get the message out that youth mental health, there’s a crisis but there are things we can do to address it,” says psychologist Dr. Charmain Jackman.

Dr. Charmain Jackson has over 25 years of experience in child and adolescent mental health. She says the latest CDC youth behavior survey is cause for concern. It shows a 60% increase in young women and girls expressing concerns about depression and anxiety.

“We’re seeing really unprecedented levels of depression and anxiety among young people, increases in suicide, as well,” says Dr Jackman.

There are resources that can help, including the National Sound it Out Campaign.

It offers free tools and guides to help families navigate topics like anxiety, friendship, racism, and anger, And it helps parents recognize if their kids really aren’t okay.

“The thing with mental health is, we can’t see, unless someone lets us into that part of their world. We could not know. They could put a mask on and really look really happy and adjusted and we would not be the wiser,” says Dr. Jackman.

Dr. Jackman says the “Sound it Out” conversation starter pack is available online, with questions to ask to make discussions about mental health feel less awkward.

One thing Dr. Jackman says is crucial:

“When your children do talk to you, that you as a parent or caregiver, that you listen, and that you listen without judgment. Because when you over-react, it pushes them away,” says Dr. Jackman.