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How to talk to your kids about mental health before the start of the new school year

New research shows school is a top trigger for depression and anxiety in teens.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Students across the Carolinas will be heading back to school in the next few weeks.

New research by Telosity, a leader in the youth mental health investor space, shows that school is a top trigger for depression and anxiety in teens. Gun violence playing out across the country is taking a toll on kids, more than 50% of respondents said they were concerned about going to school in person because of it.

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Soon students will be back in the classroom focusing on reading, math, and science. But experts say there should be just as much focus on emotional literacy.

“Helping children learn to name and express their emotions helps with problem-solving, it helps to build their communication skills, it also helps them reach out to parents when they need support,” Dr. Charmain Jackman, a licensed psychologist said.

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Doctors believe the country is facing a youth mental health crisis. According to the CDC, the number of mental health-related emergency department visits for suicide in early 2021 among teens ages 12 to 17 increased by 31% compared to the same period in 2019.

Heading back to school can trigger different emotions for different kids.

“Children have different experiences, and they may have happiness and anxiety around school just noticing that is really important to name those and name those different experiences that a child might have and normalizing it for them,” Jackman said.

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She thinks it’s important for parents to be open and honest about mental health and take the time to listen to their children’s concerns or thoughts.

“Really being intentional and making time to reflect on the last school year talk to them about what worked, what didn’t work, ask what they’re excited about and also ask what they might be nervous about as they start and prepare for the new year,” she said.

The Ad Council has several resources parents can use to start the conversation.

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