Mental health drives held at Valley high schools to educate families

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Whether you’re adjusting to working from home and socializing at a distance because of a national pandemic or feeling the impacts of the Creek fire, it’s important to know you’re not alone.

“This is a very significant time of stress for all of us,” says Fresno County Director of Behavioral Health Dawan Utecht

A recent study conducted by the CDC shows that nationwide, 63% of young adults have experienced increased anxiety or depression related to COVID.

One in four have either started or increased use of substance and one in four have considered suicide or have had suicidal thoughts.

“They are experiencing both social isolation as well as the impact of the uncertainty of their future,” Utecht said.

Utecht says their team is partnering with local schools to provide mental health resources for teens.

“They haven’t had as much experiences as we’ve had,” she said. “As we get older to learning how to cope with uncertainty, they’re still building that resilience muscle.”

Mental health drives at Central and Clovis High School provided families with information on coping strategies and county resources in English, Spanish and Hmong.

The events come in response to a countywide uptick in reports of kids in crisis.

“When it comes to things like suicide, it has nothing to do with the parent or parenting skills,” says Ahmad Bahamari with the department of behavioral health. “It has to do with emotional stressors and things going on with that individual.”

Bahrami says in Fresno County, an average of 100-115 people die by suicide per year.

He says it’s important to pay close attention to signs of anxiety and depression like panic attacks, outbursts, withdrawing or isolating.

“We really want to encourage parents to even if you feel your kid is fine, check in,” he said. “Talk to them. Ask them if they’re stressed. Let them know it’s okay to feel stress.”

Every family that drove through received a packet with information on how to see the signs know the signs and most importantly, start that conversation with your child.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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