January 23, 2024

Why Are Kids and Teens Struggling With Mental Health Right Now?

Dr. Emily Bilek is quoted in this Everyday Health article.  

Link to the original article


4. Help Create Safe Spaces for Sharing

“If you are a parent, caregiver, or an adult who is concerned about a child’s mental health, it is important to reach out,” says Emily L. Bilek, PhD, a clinical psychologist and clinical associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Children and teens often feel isolated, and connection with someone who cares about them goes a long way.”

Bilek acknowledges that it can be really hard for adults to know exactly what to say to a young person who seems like they’re struggling. “My main advice is to focus on connecting with the child rather than fixing the problem,” she says. “Of course, we want to help, and we should if we can. But we need to connect first.”

Make yourself available by asking often if they want to talk (without pressure). If and when they do start opening up, resist the urge to offer solutions and instead just validate when they’re feeling.

“That might mean saying something like ‘Oh, it is so hard to be excluded from your friends; tell me about what it’s like for you,’ or ‘I’m sorry you’re struggling with this. I can see you’re in pain,’” Bilek says.