November 18, 2021
Health and Mental Care
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Submitted by: United Way of Broward County’s Commission on Behavioral Health & Drug Prevention

Did you know that childhood stress can leave changes in the adult brain? Did you know that 50% of people will develop at least one mental health condition during their lifetime? And half of those people will develop a mental health condition by age 14? Can you imagine the amount of suffering that can be avoided if those 14-yearolds had mental health checkups done by their pediatricians? Research shows that preventing and intervening early for young people with mental health conditions can dramatically improve immediate and long-term outcomes.

Many youth in our community complain that their parents don’t take their mental health concerns seriously. Stigma, lack of knowledge and poor access to services are some of the possible reasons. And the consequences result in pain, suffering, progression of mental health disorders, hospitalizations, incarcerations, school dropouts, unemployment, premature death, social isolation, poor functioning, and loss of productivity, among many others.

Once the youth reach adulthood there is not much that parents can do; as parents can’t force them to get medical attention after they turn eighteen. It’s truly a painful cycle and that’s why it’s so important to start conversations early, pay attention to children’s emotions and feelings, and take action. It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to reach out. There is help out there.

Parents are the #1 influence in the lives of their children.

We all deal with things differently. For some people, it’s easy to slow down and concentrate on being present in the moment. “How do I feel now? Why am I feeling so angry? What can I do to feel better? How are my kids feeling?” The truth is, life is short and we must make the best out of it. It’s ok to ask for help. Not only for us, but also for our children. Let’s make great childhoods happen now!

Free Resources:

There are some great free resources that can be accessed. They include the following:

• InsightTimer - Meditation App: Free App in 5 different languages, from the Secular and Scientific to Spiritual or Religious. Find “InsightTimer - Meditation App” on Google.

• Free Parenting Classes in English and Spanish: Tools to build healthy and happy families during these challenging times. For more information, call United Way of Broward County: 954-453-3758.

• 211 Broward: Your First Call for Help in Broward County. Basic needs, special needs, food, housing, health care, senior services, childcare, legal aid, Senior Touchline, Teenspace and much more. Dial 2-1-1 or 954-532-0211.

• Quit Smoking/Vaping: Free Tools & Resources in English & Spanish. Call 954-262-1580 or 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or 1-850-245-4144. 

Tips for Parents

When we are busy, we tend to become numb to our own true needs and to the ones of those around us. The new normal is challenging in many ways, so it’s important to focus on what we can control. Here are a few suggestions:

Plan your day ahead of time. Develop a daily family routine. Wake up and go to sleep every day at the same time. Shower and get dressed. Exercise. Take some time out for prayer, meditation, gardening, journaling, etc. 

Make healthy choices. The space in between something that happens, and your response is where your power lies. Choose being positive, see the good, have faith in yourself and others, and ask for support.

Prevention is Protection. Spend time with your children. Know the Facts about alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, or other substance use, especially because this can have consequences on the developing brain. The human brain develops until the age of 25. Listening to children, and having meaningful conversations without judging them, reduces alcohol and other substance use and delays the age of first use. Prevention works - the goal is to stop addiction before it even starts.

These are challenging times for everyone. It’s natural to feel anxious and scared. Take a break from the news and engage in fun and relaxing family activities. Let’s remember that “it takes a village to raise a child.” We all can play a role in making sure that great childhoods start happening now for all children in our community. Let’s break the stigma, by sharing the fact that mental health is just as essential as physical health. Normalizing the conversation about mental health empowers people to talk and get the help they need. Also let’s be aware that stress hormones are released during stressful situations and the frequent presence of these stress hormones can lead to physical conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and overall poor health outcomes. Racism, financial problems, and high expectations are stressors that affect our health. Let’s be kind with ourselves and others. Let’s talk in a way that reflects science and demonstrates respect. Let’s end bullying and discrimination, pain and suffering. Let’s bring hope to our communities, to our families and to our lives.

For more information, please visit www.DrugFreeBroward.org

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