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  • Youth Behavioral Health

    What’s on their minds?

    Behavioral health includes how people think, feel and act. People with good behavioral health can navigate life, have positive relationships and adapt to change. Most behavioral health challenges begin during the teen years. While some mental and physical changes are normal for youth, some aren’t.

    Signs of mental health challenges for youth.

    • Frequent head or stomach aches with no medical reason.
    • Changes in attitude about schoolwork.
    • Less interest in family, friends or pets.
    • Changes in sleep patterns (too much or too little).

    Youth Behavioral Health: What's on their minds? Infographic

    Kids in crisis.

    In 2018, 27% of Pierce County 10th graders said they had thought about suicide and 66% reported they felt anxious or nervous in the past two weeks. The pandemic made things worse. Now, 58% of 10th graders report feeling sad or depressed on most days.

    Keep talking to your kids.

    Talking to your kids about mental health can be scary, but you’re not alone. Here are some helpful tips to start the conversation:

    • Be honest with your child.
    • Listen without responding right away.
    • Give them a few minutes to think about your words.
    • Kids know when you’re being real with them—and when you’re not.
    • Get professional help when you don’t know what to do.

    Learn more ways to have courageous conversations about mental health:

    Get help early. Get help often.

    We all want what is best for children. It’s okay to ask for help. Start here with these great resources:

    If you believe someone is having a life-threatening crisis, call 911.

    More ways to keep your family healthy:

    teen Mental Health First Aid

    No one understands teens better than themselves. When they came to us, we helped put a plan into action. They will help lead it.

    One of several new projects funded by Pierce County’s new behavioral health taxteen Mental Health First Aid helps youth help their friends.

    Pierce County 10th to 12th graders who get certified will learn to:

    • See the signs of a mental health crisis or substance use challenges in a friend.
    • Involve a trusted adult when needed.

    Certified, trained adults will help youth talk to and keep an eye on their friends and peers.

    We’ll start by focusing on the county’s more than 7,000 10th graders. We know young people are resilient, brave and kind. We also know early intervention from a friend or peer can help someone who is struggling.

    Find a Mental Health First Aid instructor in and near Pierce County.