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How Employers Can Support Young People Now

Youth mental health is finally receiving the spotlight it deserves, from the Surgeon General’s new guidelines to major New York Times pieces to celebrity advocacy. Yet the numbers are still moving in the wrong direction, with alarming increases in depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts. As our society rallies to meet this challenge, employers can play a vital role in helping to drive progress.

Youth mental health has spiraled into a crisis. A recent research analysis including over 80,000 youth globally, found that depression and anxiety symptoms doubled during the pandemic. In early 2021, emergency department visits in the United States for suspected suicide attempts were 51% higher for adolescent girls compared to the same time period in early 2019.

These trends are unacceptable and unsustainable. From policymakers to filmmakers, leaders are stepping up to take action. Last June, Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness, a documentary produced by Ken Burns and sponsored by One Mind, premiered on PBS. The documentary follows the lives of two dozen young people who are struggling with mental health and illustrates the ways that they cope with and overcome these barriers.

However, the conversation on youth mental health has largely left out one key player: employers. While it’s understandable that we don’t associate young people with the workplace, employers can actually play an important part, given their networks, resources, and influence. In fact, many organizations are already acting to support younger employees and employees with children, while contributing to a larger culture of mental health.

Just consider that Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce in OECD countries by 2025. Mental health is a priority for this generation, which means it should be a

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Experts offer insights into assisting those in mental health crisis

Navigating the mental health care system and connecting to resources can oftentimes be difficult, but experts say there are measures that can be taken to support someone dealing with a mental health crisis.

When asked what to do for someone in that situation, the panelists during a Mental Health Symposium Thursday said in a perfect world, it would start with preventive measures that would hopefully stop a crisis from occurring in the first place.

If it’s too late for preventive measures, it is still important to slow down and listen when someone is in crisis, the group told the audience at the Gateway Community Center. The event was part of a series of events held this month in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month in May.

“When people’s lives are out of control … try to give them control over everything they can have a say over,” said Drew Buckner with Braveheart Ministries. “That means if we’re with them, let them make decisions instead of making them for them. Like, ‘would you like to sit down or keep standing?’ ‘Would you like water or a coffee?’”

Buckner, who is often called on by emergency responders to be a stand-by chaplain in difficult situations, said it’s important to be with the person who is in crisis.

Speaking on these topics, in addition to Buckner, were some of the primary people who respond to mental health crises in the valley: Paula Sullivan with the Crisis Intervention Team Montana, Sarah Winfrey, mental health co-responder for local law enforcement and Colby Wood, Logan Health emergency room crisis interventionist.

Preventative measures regarding a mental health crisis can include assessing someone’s needs, spending time with them and asking if they think reaching out to talk to someone would help. A safety plan, which is most effective

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