Doctor encourages parents to talk with children about mental health

This week is National Youth Suicide Prevention Week

National Youth Suicide Prevention Week
National Youth Suicide Prevention Week

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This week is National Youth Suicide Prevention Week.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says, it’s important to protect our mental health and help those who may be struggling.

Dr. Allison Ventura, with UF Health Jacksonville, is encouraging parents not to be afraid to talk with their children about mental health and start a dialogue with them about how they’re doing.

“I think that sometimes we don’t know what to say to our children, so this is a great chance for us to have some education that talking with your children is really a great way to start the conversation about how they’re doing with their mood and how they’re doing in general,” said Ventura, who joined “The Morning Show” on Sunday.

National Youth Suicide Prevention Week
National Youth Suicide Prevention Week

Ventura says one way that parents can start the dialogue with their children is by paying attention to any changes in their child, such as mood or energy level, and talking with them about how they are doing in a calm, nonjudgmental way.

She stresses the importance of listening.

“Oftentimes our first gut reaction is to want to fix, to solve and to get into that take action mode,” Ventura said. “But, as parents, really just sitting back and listening and understanding what’s going on with your child and just letting them talk can really be the first step to having a good intervention and connection with your child to make sure we’re putting them in the right direction for help.”

Ventura also encourages parents to follow their instinct.

“I think parents are very intuitive and have really good gut instinct about when changes have happened with their children, so I think listening to your gut as a parent and saying, ’This is a change I’m concerned about?’” Ventura said. “And if it is, go forward and address it with your teen or you can go and have a conversation with your pediatrician, health provider, school counselor, maybe a therapist.”

If you or someone you know needs help or just wants to talk to a trained counselor, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

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