In recognition of the challenges a new school year presents for children and adolescents, Mental Health America (MHA) is providing new resources on student mental health (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/back-school), with an emphasis on web-based tools that can be easily shared across social media platforms.
This year, MHA has developed tools and resources to inform and educate both students and parents about why specifically self-esteem and body image—and the negative thoughts and behaviors that can accompany them throughout the teenage years—can be critically important to a student’s overall mental health.
“Issues of low self-esteem and distorted body image often develop during adolescent years, and some youth develop dangerous and destructive habits that should be addressed as soon as possible—before Stage 4,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of MHA. “As students head back to school, they can be dealing with a host of emotions. MHA has created simple, web-based resources that can help youth and parents start the conversation about mental health, body image and self-esteem—and provide hope for those dealing with the negative feelings and destructive behaviors that sometimes accompany them.”
When adolescents are dealing with low self-esteem and body image concerns, some turn to dangerous activities, like self-injury, unhealthy eating habits, or body-focused repetitive behaviors like hair pulling or skin picking, which are related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. All of these can be harmful, both to someone’s physical and mental health.
The toolkit is designed for MHA affiliates, advocates, and organizations of all types to use with parents, youth and school personnel to raise awareness of the importance of proactively addressing issues related to low self-esteem and body image—and how physical and emotional health relate to each other.
This year’s toolkit includes:
- Key messages
- Drop-In articles
- Sample social media posts and graphics for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- Infographic to guide parents on the “do’s and don’ts” of talking to their kids
- Self-image and self-esteem themed “Listicles”
- Fact sheets on self-injury, eating disorders, Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD), and Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (hair pulling and skin picking)
Taking a mental health screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. MHA has screening tools available (www.mhascreening.org) for both youth and parents who are concerned that their emotions, attention, or behaviors-or that of their child—might be signs of a problem. MHA’s website also has additional material on children’s mental health available here.