PALM CITY — It can be stressful being a teen in today’s world, said Neera Goyal, a 16-year-old who hopes to raise awareness of teen mental health.
She said the students have gone through two years of the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted their learning and social interaction.
She said the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult because many schools went to remote learning during its early days. Goyal was in eighth grade in 2020 when she switched to distance learning, which lasted until the last quarter of ninth grade.
“This feeling of isolation and loneliness really hit me,” said Goyal, who created her nonprofit, Teen Mental Reset, to focus on teen mental health. “It really made me anxious.”
Read more:Project Lift has been awarded a $5 million grant to teach business skills to at-risk youth in three cities
also:Project LIFT, a nonprofit mental health and vocational training organization for teens, is expanding to Fort Pierce
And the:Martin County voters clear the way for the school district to spend on mental health, and pay teachers
Now is the time to reset and destigmatize mental health, said Martin County High School, who is president and co-founder of the school’s Mental Health Awareness Club.
Encourage teens to seek help
Teen Mental Reset’s goal, according to its website, is to encourage teens to seek help when they’re struggling.
“We know not everything can be solved, but everything you learn and share with proper help will make you feel lighter,” says the website. “Find a safe and healthy way to deal with difficulties you or others may be experiencing.”
Goyal knows firsthand the impact of suicide on a family. She said in a statement that two of her family members committed suicide after dealing with depression and bullying.
“If society had not been so quick to shun or ridicule people with mental health problems, my family members might have been more inclined to seek treatment instead, which could have saved them,” she said.
Among the group’s directors is her father, Dr. Ajay Goyal, President and CEO of the Diagnostic Radiology Center at Treasure Coast. Robin Huebner, licensed social worker and director of social services for the Boys and Girls Club of Martin County; and Charlene Lyons, President and CEO of the Treasure Coast YMCA.
Teen Mental Reset is sponsoring a panel discussion from 6-8 p.m. on November 29 at Blake Library in Stewart to educate parents and teens about the resources available.
Recognize the signs
Among the speakers: Dr. Lalit Chaubey, MD, pediatric child and adolescent psychiatrist. Rebecca Board, director of Speak Life End Bullying The Musical; and Jarrod Strickland, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Florida.
Strickland said suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens.
“It’s scary,” he said. “Consciousness is not where it should be.”
Getting care is one of the biggest challenges teens face, Strickland said, and society needs to know where treatment is available.
At the same time, he stressed that parents need to learn to recognize signs of mental illness and follow their children.
“It will start at home,” Strickland said, adding that parents need to ask their teens how they are doing and what is on their minds.
“It’s a big problem,” he said. “It’s a problem we need to work on.”
Colleen Wixson is the Education Correspondent for TCPalm.com. Contact her at Colleen.Wixon@TCPalm.com or 772-978-2235.