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10 NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2015 Talking about mental health with teens can be challenging. By using open-ended questions you allow teens to answer in their own words. Here are some questions to get the conversation going and open up the lines of communication with teens. Break the ice. Sometimes you just need a way to engage a teenager and start a conversation. If you could have anyone do the voice-over for your reflections on life who would it be What is one of the most adventurous things youve ever done What is some place that you would really like to visit If you could be a contestant on any game show which one would you choose If you could have any one superpower which one would you choose and why If you had 1000 to spend how would you spend it What is your favorite thing to do with friends What is your dream car If you could go on a trip anywhere with three other people where would you go and what three people would you take What was your favorite movie when you were younger Steer the conversation toward mental health. Incorporate these questions into your con- versations to help teens identify and talk about their feelings and experiences on a deeper level. When do you get discouraged When do you feel most vulnerable What is something you like about yourself What is something you are looking forward to doing within the next six months What is one regret you have from last week What was the highlight of your week What is the biggest struggle you are facing in life right now What is one personal tragedy you have overcome Name one weakness and one strength you have. Name one short-term goal and one long-term goal you have. STARTTHE CONVERSATION HOWTOTALKTOTEENS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH Youth mental health is an area that demands our attention. In the Dallas-FortWorth area there are 1.5 million young people between the ages of 10 and 24. An estimated one in five or about 300000 have a diagnosable treatable mental disorder though less than half seek help. FAST FACTS 1 in 4 teens is bullied and 3 out of 5 teens witness bullying behavior daily. 1 in 6 teens engages in self-harm compared to 1 in 100 adults. High stress levels are the number one trigger for teen depression. Depression is responsible for more suicide deaths than any other risk factor. Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongTexas teens. A young person dies by suicide at the rate of two per week in the DFW Metroplex. 8 out of 10 young people who take their own lives give warning signs of their intent. Here are some common symptoms that indicate your teen might need help Depressed or irritable mood Recurrent thoughts of death of suicidal ideation Diminished interest or pleasure Poor appetite or overeating Weight loss or weight gain Fatigue and loss of energy Feelings of worthlessness Inability to think or concentrate Insomnia inability to sleep or hypersomnia inability to stay awake If you have observed three or more of these symptoms lasting more than two weeks and a noticeable change in your childs functioning it might be appropriate to have your teen evaluated by a physician or mental health professional. WHY FOCUS ON MENTALWELLNESS Being a parent is one of lifes most fulfilling experienc- es. Parents spend most of their childrens lives serving as protectors to provide a healthy upbringing leading to productive adult years. Ensuring that children grow up safe seems like a never-ending challenge and can be a constant struggle for parents. With toddlers parents have more control over their childrens surroundings and can easily protect them from harm. They go in car seats electrical outlets are covered and cabinets are locked. As children grow into their adolescent years the dangers continually expand outward from home into seemingly every corner of their environment. This presents new challenges for parents as they are not always around to protect them from harm. During the teen years most parents begin to worry about their children being bullied online ac- tivities school challenges peer pressure and countless other issues. As teens gain independence parents should remem- ber that they remain the biggest influence on their chil- drens behavior. Inevitably teens will need assistance when they are facing a crisis and it is crucial to have Keeping Teens by James Bryant Contributor