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The U.S. is Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis, Let’s Remember to Take Care of Ourselves

September 20, 2023

Recently, we’ve seen an alarming report from the CDC that in 2022 that the United States reached a record number of suicides at more than 46,000 lives lost to suicide. 

The rate of suicides increased between 2011 and 2021 among 10- to 24-year-olds by 60%.

It’s clear that we remain in a mental health crisis, and it’s not just our children who are in crisis–it’s also the adults who are suffering.

With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, there was a brief drop in suicide rates – perhaps in part due to people pulling together and supporting one another in the face of adversity. However, shortly thereafter, mental health issues skyrocketed with loss, isolation, anxiety, depression and stress exacerbated by the global pandemic. Unfortunately, the mental health toll Americans of all ages are experiencing has yet to abate. 

At Housman Institute, we’re committed to equipping caregivers and educators with the information and tools they need to not only teach children the skills necessary to deal with their big emotions and understand those of others, but equally important is supporting and providing the adults with the tools and strategies to effectively deal with and manage their own emotionality– the skills of emotional intelligence. 

Emotions are universally everyone’s first language. By teaching children – beginning from birth – to identify, manage and regulate their big emotions, we’re laying the foundation for lifelong success. By supporting the adults, we’re providing them with the emotional toolkit they need both for themselves and for the children in their care, who depend upon them to help navigate this unprecedented ongoing storm.

One key aspect of the tools we equip caregivers and teachers with is the knowledge that they themselves must first learn to and/or better understand and manage their own intense emotions – the old oxygen mask rule

An emotionally dysregulated adult cannot model and guide a child through the process in becoming emotionally competent, self-regulated and available to learn. 

Undoubtedly parenting is deeply satisfying. There’s also no doubt that a significant amount of stress comes along with parenting. Parental stress is derived from a number of factors, including a burdensome mental load and responsibilities, lack of social support, financial troubles and marital problems.

The same is true of teachers in terms of facing a significant amount of stressors. Teachers have been facing workforce shortages, issues with pay, sickness in classrooms, classroom closures and more. Additionally, with children experiencing increased stress and anxiety at home and at school, teachers are seeing increased troubling behavioral issues in the classroom, coupled with social and emotional developmental delays, which can take a toll on teachers’ emotional well-being as they struggle to address significant dysregulated behavioral issues while being responsible for teaching class. 

I’m hearing more and more often from parents and teachers alike that they feel they have increased stress, shorter fuses and an overall sense of frustration and anxiety in their lives, which pours over into the lives of the children in their care. This is understandable; however, not at all helpful to either the child or the adult. 

Knowing that children thrive and learn best while in the care of responsive, empathic relationships, we must not forget about taking care of ourselves. We’re facing unprecedented and trying times. These are times when we need to give ourselves a pat on the back, a hug and a needed break – not just deep breathing and self-care, but also literally giving ourselves a break when sometimes we don’t show up in the most ideal way day in and day out.

As we all struggle to navigate through this time where many Americans are experiencing overwhelming mental health issues, let’s look for ways to make sure we’re getting and giving support in dealing with and managing our own emotions, and lifting each other up whenever we have the chance. 

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