While the holidays are typically described as a time of joy, not all of our students are necessarily sharing in the spirit of the season. The National Association on Mental Illness reports that half of all chronic mental illness begins by 14 years of age, and between Thanksgiving and the New Year, busy schedules and sky-high expectations from family and friends can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Additionally, the “holiday blues” affect about 11 percent of children by age 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. These feelings are often unexpected and, therefore, coping can be difficult.
Many factors contribute to these issues, including relationship troubles, family conflicts, lack of sleep, bullying or cyberbullying, and comparing one’s life to those of their peers. Teens have more downtime over the winter break, spending additional hours on their phones and away from their normal routines. This increases the chance of engagement in negative socializing, which has the potential to lead to self-harm, harming others, bullying, and suicide.
If you see signs of any of these mental health issues with your students or children over the Holiday season, here are some resources that may help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or Call 800-273-TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line, or Text HOME to 741741