(This post originally appears at miamitimesonline.com as a part of the “A Local Voice on Mental Health” column)
Discussions about mental wellness should be shared with our children. Suicide rates among Black children have doubled in the last two decades. U.S. suicide rates have been higher historically amongst whites of all ages, but the rates of suicides amongst Black boys and girls continue to rise.
Most Americans are uncomfortable discussing mental illness, and especially in certain communities. My first experience with mental illness was during junior high school. A very close friend struggled with personal identity and felt she did not fit in. She would avoid attending school on some days by telling her mother that she was sick. She would isolate and was withdrawn – not attending after-school functions and not socializing in popular teen hang out areas. Eventually, she attempted to kill herself by overdosing on medications.
The most difficult years of development is the adolescent period. It is the bridge between childhood and adulthood. The transition to the teenage period is complicated by puberty, further gender development, sexual identity, concern about how one appears to others and creating one’s identity in society. Peer pressure to engage in sexual activity or use substances such as cigarettes, alcohol and drugs is common.Read the rest of this article