The Mental Health Epidemic

Two years ago I wrote this article about the mental health epidemic. I thought I would share all of this again because it is still very relevant and we should all strive to keep the conversation about mental health going. Please excuse the references to specific dates as they are from 2017 but all remain very poignant.

Last Wednesday, the NY Times ran very comprehensive story about the epidemic of anxiety among American teenagers – definitely worth a read =

Unfortunately, the Times article made no mention at all of the very close link between the microbiome or gut-brain-axis and depression/anxiety – a glaring omission, especially given the cutting-edge science in the area and the dramatic improvements in anxiety and depression that are possible with proper microbiome balance and gut-brain-axis communication.

This past Sunday, a 14-year-old Freshman at my son’s high school passed away – having taken his own life.

This coming Saturday, I’ll be helping to dedicate a new rowing shell to my college crew team in memory of our boat-mate who took his own life earlier this year.

Like a lot of people (too many people), this weekend will be a balance of the emotional “highs” of sharing memories with some of my closest friends, with the “lows” of many of those memories involving people who are no longer with us.

Mental Wellness is perhaps THE health challenge of our time – and I’m so privileged to be part of a movement that is DOING something to help others.

If you know anyone who is struggling with any form of mental wellness challenge, please do me 2 favors:

  1. Check out what we’re up to at Amare Global
  2. Check out the tips about suicide that my son’s school sent out (below) – and share them with others

Teen suicide is one of the most challenging topics for people to discuss, but it can’t be ignored. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that incidences of teen suicide have been increasing in recent years. Teens have a lot of pressure on them, with everyone from parents to teachers and coaches placing higher and higher expectations on their academic and extracurricular pursuits.

Many of you have asked for resources to help your children through this very difficult time. Below are some general guidelines to help you through this process.

Communication is very important:

  • be open and honest; use the words ‘dead’ or ‘death’
  • be honest and open with children about suicide. Use language the child understands and that you are comfortable with
  • to avoid stigma use the word ‘suicided’ or took their life rather than committed suicide. This avoids reference to a crime
  • answer fact in short simple sentences without unnecessary detail
  • respect their views with non-judgemental responses.

Emotions and Actions

  • give comfort, hugs, and reassurance as needed by your child
  • stick to day to day routine and schedules as much as possible
  • reduce change to a minimum
  • allow your child to express all emotions in a safe way, e.g. find healthy ways to vent anger, it is okay to cry; emotional storms only last a short time.
  • make time for just being together, take time out to just be together.

Some Important Ideas to Share with a Child About Grief Are:

  • there are no right or wrong ways to experience grief
  • there is no secret method that will take your grief instantly away
  • there are no rules about grief; everyone grieves differently in their own way and in their own time
  • there is no timetable for grief
  • though it might seem hard to believe, it does gradually get easier to handle
  • take all the time and space you need to grieve in your own way for as long as it takes
  • invite peers over, encourage friends to spend time with them and offer support

You may also find the following document on Teen Suicide a valuable resource: