Does Your Teen Know Who To Call?
Would you know the signs if your child was depressed?
As a parent, I think I would. But then I hear stories from other parents about how they thought the isolation was temporary or they thought it was just a stage. But it wasn't.
Despite how connected our kids are, they still have the age-old feelings of being all alone in the world. They need sounding boards to discuss what they are going through. And usually, their parents are not the ones they want to talk to and their friends don't always make things better.
But if you knew your child needed help, would you be embarrassed if they saw a therapist? Would you be embarrassed if you knew they called Kids Help Phone?
Heather, mom to 15-year-old Alyssa who has been dealing with depression for two years, says that she used to feel embarrassed that she couldn't be enough for her daughter. She wanted to protect her daughter, but found she couldn't. It wasn't until the emergency vehicles were at the door that she realized Alyssa wasn't just going through a stage -- she was in serious trouble.
And the teen needed somewhere to turn. Even two years later, she still needs someone outside her circle of therapists and family members to talk to, which is when she calls Kids Help Phone.
Heather said that she hoped that every parent would put up the Kids Help Phone number in their home, so their kids knew that they could call and talk whenever they wanted.
I want to be enough for my kids, I want them to talk to me about what is going on in their lives and their brains. But they don't always, and I don't know what to expect as they become teenagers.
Sometimes kids don't talk to their parents because they don't want to worry them, and even when they know there is a problem parents don't refer them to therapists because they want to protect their children and/or avoid the stigma. Or they have no idea what to do.
But after meeting with the Kids Help Phone, I'm thinking that if any of my kids ever called one of their trained counsellors I would feel like I had done a good job instead of being embarrassed.
Everytime I talk to this organization I am impressed with how much they care about the kids who phone and write to them everyday. They are a completely anonymous and confidential service, they act as a sounding board and they try to work out options and, if the caller is reponsive, move them towards action. If the child wants the parent to know what is going on, the counsellors will also talk to the parent -- but only with the child's permission.
Kids and teens can also post personal issues on the website anonymously which will be answered by trained counsellors within a few days. Go read some of the things that the kids are worried about: relationships, being bullied, being a bully; depression; there are some pretty heavy topics going on. They have seperate sites for teens and kids, and even have a Leave This Site Quickly button.
I was invited to a roundtable alongside Heather and Alyssa where the teen talked about how the phone line has made her feel less alone in the world.
That is pretty powerful.
I went home and told my tween that he should phone anytime he needs it. He looked at me like I was from outer space, but that's okay. The phone number is up there on the wall.
(And by the way, Kids Help Phone is funded by donations and they are having a walk to raise money on Saturday called the Walk So Kids Can Talk in 40 locations across the country. Once you read the blog by their counsellors, you won't be able to say no. Check it out, go, pledge.)
Did you know about the Kids Help Phone? Would you encourage your kids to get outside help if they needed it?
Want more chaos? Last year, I reflected on the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and remembered my key points when trying to make the world feel safe. Ignore the comments though, they went off the rails.