Emotional well-being is essential to a young person’s overall health and development. Good mental health is just as important as physical health; both profoundly affect how young people think, feel, react, and respond to the stresses of life. We can help our youth become healthy, happy, and thriving adults in these primary ways: working to bolster protective factors, helping youth to acquire positive social and emotional skills, and eliminating the threats to their health and safety.
On May 26, 2021, through a community-led effort, 75 individuals representing multiple Wake County sectors and organizations participated in the “Building Mental Wellness: The Role of Individuals, Families, and Communities” Summit. Click here for the resources shared: Mental Health Summit 2021 Resources and National Resources.
Learn more about mental health here.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Wake County
- Mental Health America: Back to School 2020 Toolkit
- Mental Health America: Toolkit
- Mental Health America: Back to School
- Child Trends: Relationships with a Caring Adult
- Happiness Lab
- School Mental Health Curriculum
Wake County Planning Blueprint Outcomes:
Percent of students reporting bullying behavior
Youth suicide rates in Wake County
Youth suicide attempts in Wake County
Number of people trained in Mental Health First Aid in Wake County
Far too many Wake County youth die by suicide, forfeiting their promise and potential. Instead of becoming thriving adults, their lives are cut short—leaving a trail of devastated families, schools, and communities who struggle to answer why this happened and what they could have done to prevent it. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for children ages 10–17 in North Carolina (North Carolina Institute Of Medicine and NC Child, 2019). According to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, the rate of youth suicide has almost doubled over the past 10 years.
Suicide is preventable! The elimination of suicide, and the related issue of bullying, are existing, community-defined priorities. The Youth Thrive collaborative is committed to identifying the root causes of these social issues—and we are advancing strategies and solutions that support the emotional well-being of our young people, particularly those who are most vulnerable
Learn more about suicide prevention here.
Bullying is a significant problem plaguing our schools and our communities. More than 3.2 million students experience bullying every year. Every day, approximately 160,000 students miss class because they are afraid to confront their bully. Every seven minutes, a young person experiences bullying, and 85% of the time, no one steps in.
In Wake County, bullying was reported by 15.4% of surveyed high school students (Wake YRBS, 2019) which closely mirrors national statistics. During the 2014-2015 school year in Wake County schools, there were (173) short-term suspensions and (2) long-term suspensions for violation of the bullying policy, L2-14. The impact of bullying can have devastating effects, as youth who are bullied can experience a range of negative physical, school, and mental health issues which can often persist through adulthood
Learn more about bullying prevention here.
Social Emotional Learning
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is critical to youth development. "SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions."
SEL involves self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness.
Learn more about social-emotional learning here.
Healthy relationships include romantic, familial, friend, and work relationships, and it is important for youth to understand a few key elements. In healthy relationships, partners should be able to express what they are and are not comfortable with and can expect their partners to be respectful of these choices. Types of boundaries can include physical, emotional, financial, sexual, and spiritual boundaries. The following are elements of healthy relationships:
- Healthy communication
- Healthy boundaries
- Mutual respect
- Support for one another
It is important in relationships, for everyone to regularly check in with each other while also giving space and privacy. Some relationships can turn negative, and youth need to understand the warning signs of dating abuse. Not all relationships are healthy, but all youth deserve ones that are. We need to help educate them on setting and maintaining healthy relationships
Learn more about healthy relationships here.
Social media is a large part of youths' lives with 45% of youth reporting they are online almost constantly according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey. 97% report using a social media platform to stay connected, and while the app of choice is constantly changing, there is information on the current popular apps. While there are many benefits to youth using social media, it is important for adults to be aware of the negative side effects including distraction, sleep disruption, bullying exposure, rumor spreading, peer pressure, and unrealistic views of other's lives.
There are steps you can take to encourage responsible use of social media and limit some of its negative effects. Consider these tips:
- Set reasonable limits. Talk to your teen about how to avoid letting social media interfere with his or her activities, sleep, meals or homework. Encourage a bedtime routine that avoids electronic media use, and keep cellphones and tablets out of teens' bedrooms. Set an example by following these rules yourself.
- Monitor your teen's accounts. Let your teen know that you'll be regularly checking his or her social media accounts. You might aim to do so once a week or more. Make sure you follow through.
- Explain what's not OK. Discourage your teen from gossiping, spreading rumors, bullying or damaging someone's reputation — online or otherwise. Talk to your teen about what is appropriate and safe to share on social media.
- Encourage face-to-face contact with friends. This is particularly important for teens vulnerable to social anxiety disorder.
- Talk about social media. Talk about your own social media habits. Ask your teen how he or she is using social media and how it makes him or her feel. Remind your teen that social media is full of unrealistic images.
Learn more about social media here.