- Teen years were hard.
Hard for me.
It was hard - I feel you - I was five foot 10 by the time I was 13 years old.
So I was way too tall.
People called me big bird all the time because I had a big afro.
- You said you were too tall, I felt too short.
I was the little brown kid and I used to get teased.
First of all.
So (random noise) to you.
- You too.
- We, we, we did all right - We did.
- We did all right.
We did okay (upbeat music) - One out of five US adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder.
- I was one, I had bad anxiety.
I still have it, but I manage it.
- Mental health is not simply the absence of a mental health disorder.
Mental health is how all of us cope through everything that we deal with in life.
And think about all the variables teens have to deal with.
- I mean, really add anything to the mix of what's going on in a teen's body and (rumbling sound).
What is going on in a teenager's head like with all the mood swings and the outbursts.
I have to say, I am not looking forward to that stage.
Are they possessed by a cranky spirit?
Or is there something actually happening in their brain that's making this happen, making them not love us anymore?
- Well, they are possessed by a cranky spirit that is called adolescent brain development (laughs).
And hopefully this adds a little bit of empathy to the teenage experience.
So check this out.
The parts of our brain that really deal with emotions like reward and happiness and sorrow and all that stuff.
Areas of the brain, like the amygdala, they actually develop faster than the part of the brain that deals with problem solving, planning, and acting out the prefrontal cortex.
- So it's like a whole theater company of emotions without a director yet.
So does the brain provide any, any remedies or anything in the brain that can help all of this?
- There are little chemicals that go throughout our brain to accomplish all sorts of different tasks.
And that help regulate our moods because I'm hanging out with you, this lovely day, talking about stuff.
I feel good.
That's my dopamine.
Those are my endorphins.
Serotonin itself can regulate your mood, appetite.
Sleep helps to inhibit pain.
These neurotransmitters we talk about, can be absolutely influenced by our daily activities.
And some of these are obvious like exercising, hanging out with friends.
We're mammals, we're social creatures.
And these activities can boost neurotransmitters.
Like dopamine and oxytocin and also, kind of reduce that stress hormone cortisol.
This is great for mental health.
But then there's other activities that are also really important for mental health that are a little bit more discreet to teens, such as eating a well balanced diet, which is really important for serotonin production.
Remember that gut brain connection.
And let's not forget about sleep, which is really important for not just mental health, but our total body health.
And you know what it's like to be a teen.
Teens like to stay up late at night, watching TV on their screens, playing video games and pushing back sleep when we should be encouraging them to actually get a good night's rest.
But we can also lead by example.
- What are some clear cut signs that it might be a good time to reach out to a teen?
- Well I think one general thought is that even if we give people clear cut signs, it's just simply important to check in with your teen.
Or you know, if there's a teen that you supervise in any capacity or interact with just every now and then to check in and be like, how are you doing?
How are things going?
How are things at home?
There are some clear-cut things we should look out for like changes in sleep, sleeping too much, sleeping too little.
Changes in eating patterns, trouble concentrating on school, sports, tasks or talking to people.
If their symptoms or their feelings are affecting their ability to go to school, interact with their friends, family, do the things they love, for a few weeks or longer.
Definitely seek help as soon as you can.
And for any child who may be having harmful thoughts or thoughts of suicide, you should seek emergency help ASAP.
So yes, there are some clear-cut warning signs if you will, but honestly, any deviation from your child's normal routine, you know, any, anything that might be different, it's just a time for you to check in.
- I don't have teenage kids, my kids are still pretty young.
But I do try, whenever possible, to empathize with where they're at.
You know, like if my five-year-old has a tantrum about something and you know, I'm like, What is this about?
This isn't that serious?
But I try to imagine, what is it like?
To be that height, to be powerless in their environment.
And I try to empathize and connect with him on that level.
So don't know what it's like to have teenagers.
I wonder if that would be helpful when this time comes and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be watching this episode over and over and over again, when they are teenagers.
- Crushing the stigma, helping teens feel safe, secure, building trust, and helping teens know whom they can talk to is how we can work together to increase early intervention.
Which is key when it comes to helping teens who may be going through a crisis, having questions about mental health or an actual diagnosable mental health disorder.
Helping teens get through a mental illness, it's not just about medications.
There's also talk therapy, counseling, and a lot of this is now available.
You know, via apps.
A lot of teens can get a real big benefit from just talking to someone and running through what they're going through.
Empowering you and helping you live life.
This is why you might feel good after you go and do your favorite dance, dance?
This is why (woman laughs) (man stuttering) Serotonin (upbeat outro music)