October 17th, 2019

report based on interviews with more than 50,000 students ages 11 to 16, troubled children who genuinely seek emotional support online feel worse when other users suggest they’re simply trying to get attention. It can be tricky for a teenager – or a parent – to decipher a friend’s social media postings since people may often vent or post messages with a particular audience (or individual) in mind. Do you know how to recognize the signs that someone is in distress? “If they seem to be having a hard time and it comes out of the blue, that could be a sign they need help,” says Shoshana Bennett, PhD, a clinical psychologist from California. “If this person is typically dramatic and posts often in this manner, you’ll probably react differently than if the post is out of character and unusual,” Bennett said. “No matter what, if a friend talks seriously about hurting himself, check in and make sure he’s OK, or connect with mutual friends to find out if anyone else has already done so.” If the person tends to discuss not wanting to live, it should be taken seriously. Are you concerned about someone you know and want to take action? According to Healthline, “Before responding, consider if you think the person is just having a hard time, or if they’re suicidal. That can help you tailor your response. Reach out via a private mention, call, or have a conversation in person. Tell them you saw their post and are concerned, or offer up a referral to counseling or a mental health support hotline. Responding to posts online can influence mental health, so be mindful if you respond. Saying something careless could be even more distressing, as well as minimizing someone’s pain. “If someone is deeply troubled and the issue isn’t a quick, temporary situation, social media can at least be a catalyst for the person to hopefully get professional help,” Bennett said. “It can be very reassuring to receive messages online from others who are compassionate.” If you know someone who is in a serious mental health crisis, please encourage your friend to contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Did you know that exercise can help alleviate depression? Fitness for Health believes that a strong mind-body connection can improve your health and wellness. Learn more about Fitness for Health at www.FitnessForHealth.org.]]>

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