You Are Not Alone: Teen Mental Health Resources

Winter in Wisconsin, coronavirus, and quarantine; if that trio is not enough to get you at least a bit down, I don’t know what is. Everyone has struggled (or is still struggling!) with anxiety, depression, or stress at some point over the past year. Teens in our Young Adult Advisory Board just recently shared their thoughts, tips, and experiences regarding mental health, for which I want to give a big shout out. You rock! To cap off their Mental Health Teen to Teen series, I want to chime in with a few additional thoughts and resources.

You are not alone. If you or someone you know is struggling, please please please hear this: your family, your friends, your teachers, your community care about your wellbeing. We want to hear how you truly are. We care and we have resources to help.

As a librarian, my go-to quick way to help are book or e-book suggestions (surprising, I know). With this in mind, I pulled together a booklist of newer nonfiction books on managing anxiety, stress, depression, and more. I also included books with personal accounts of authors/teens and their struggles with mental health. Place a hold, schedule a Park & Pickup appointment, and get reading. Don’t know how Park & Pickup works? Email me or call Youth Services at 715-839-5007 to interact with a kind human.

If you need to talk or text with someone for support right away, please use these 24/7 resources: 

DIY Yummy Gummies

Gummy bears…they’re both delicious AND cute.  And now you can make your own!  One of our Teen Take & Make activities for 6th through 12th grades is a bear mold and set of ingredients to make your own gummy bears.  How “sweet” is that?!  ;)  If you have a hankering for more sweets, check out these e-cookbooks on Hoopla or contact us at the library and we can place some cookbooks on hold for you to pick up through our Park and Pickup service.

Youth Services: 715-839-5007 or ysstaff@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.

My Struggle with Anxiety

For most of my life I had lived in Fremont, Nebraska up until I was 10 at the end of 4th grade. Once school ended we moved to Eau Claire and, over the summer, it was just exploring Eau Claire. 

When school was almost about to start, I started experiencing nose twitches and anxiety, and it was pretty minor during my 5th grade school year. Once 6th grade started my nose twitching and anxiety got worse up to the point of me pulling my hair out. It was subtle at first, but got worse and worse. I slowly started pulling more and more a day without even noticing, and it got to a point where I was pulling my hair out in math class just naturally and people were noticing. As it got worse, my parents started noticing a gradual loss of hair on the left side of my head, and they went right to a psychiatrist at Mayo to see what was wrong. 

At the end I got medicine to help. I also started seeing a therapist that helped walk through what causes/caused me pulling out my hair and my anxiety. I slowly stopped with the help and support of family friends and my therapist. I later in life found an “escape” which is video games, and that helps with my anxiety a lot. I still have anxiety, especially since I started high school, but I have found that my dog (my emotional support animal), my medicine, and video games help me remove any stress or anxiety that I have. So I have grown and found good ways to lower my anxiety.

-Liam, Young Adult Advisory Board Vice President

This post is part of a series “Mental Health: Teen to Teen,” written by teens in the library’s Young Adult Advisory Board.

The Young Adult Advisory Board is made up of teen volunteers who desire to help with and be a part of the library’s events and services aimed at middle and high school students. Interested in joining? Fill out an application here.

Anxiety and How It Feels

Anxiety is a strange feeling. When I first started to get anxiety the only way I could explain it was that it felt like excitement, yet I wasn’t excited. Quite frightened, actually. It was like nothing I had ever felt before, and not in a good way. I wasn’t quite sure what the feeling could be until a month or so afterward, when I began to figure it out, and my sibling helped me to understand what it was.

Anxiety is something that happens when your fight or flight reflexes kick in at random times, for no particular reason. When you aren’t in any trouble at all, it can act up, and cause huge damage to your mental health. It isn’t something you are born with. In fact, it is something your brain makes up, and with the right help, you can find the right way to make yourself feel less anxious. This has to do with methods that work for you.

While I won’t go too deep into methods, since my friend Liam is going to be talking mostly about what helps him with anxiety, and what he does to get rid of it, I will share two of my methods that have greatly helped me. The first of these is called a worry stone. It’s something you can buy online, in stores, or simply find on the ground. It’s a smooth stone that you can carry in your hand and rub whenever you begin to feel anxious. One of the reasons this works is because often touching objects will help get you out of panic mode. Another thing I would suggest is drinking water. You will often get dehydrated when you are in fight or flight mode, so although it may not completely take away your anxiousness, it should help to steady your breathing and get you back on the right track!

Anxiety is usually the cause for panic attacks. There are three stages—from my experience—that happen when a panic attack is coming on. The first is regular anxiety, the second is an anxiety attack, and afterward it spirals into a panic attack. Often, when you are having a panic attack, you can feel numb, dizzy, shaky, and your heart will be racing. Of course, there are more extreme symptoms as well, but those are the main ones that most people will experience. Though the methods are ways to make sure you don’t have a panic attack, just remember that if you ever do, they will pass. They don’t last forever. Stay strong and positive, and remember that you will get through this!

Take care!

~ Georgia, Young Adult Advisory Board Secretary 

This post is part of a series “Mental Health: Teen to Teen,” written by teens in the library’s Young Adult Advisory Board.

The Young Adult Advisory Board is made up of teen volunteers who desire to help with and be a part of the library’s events and services aimed at middle and high school students. Interested in joining? Fill out an application here.

How to Help a Friend with Depression

Unfortunately, depression is a huge problem among teens these days, with about 20% of people experiencing depression before adulthood. In teens, the rate of depression and anxiety is five times higher than in the 1930s. One of your friends could be dealing with depression, which can sometimes lead to them taking their own life.

First, here are some symptoms:

  • They seem hopeless about the future.
  • They are unusually sad, angry, or irritated.
  • They seem low-energy or unmotivated.
  • They care less about or can’t concentrate on their interests or their friends.
  • They don’t seem to care as much as usual about their appearance.
  • They talk about being worthless or letting people down.

If your friend fits some of those, they may have depression. But what can you do if you suspect they may be dealing with it? 

  • Depression can be a hard thing to talk about, so make sure you are ready to listen. Encourage them to seek help or therapy. Let them know you’re there for them, and don’t sit down to talk about it if you only have a few minutes to spare.
  • Don’t take it personally if they don’t seem to want to hang out or if they act cold or angry towards you. Don’t act the same way to them, and make sure to give them some space.  
  • Learn about depression yourself. Do some research, and try to understand what they’re dealing with. Some important things to know are causes, symptoms, and common treatments.
  • Offer to help them. Depression can often come with a lack of motivation, so they might not feel like doing certain tasks, and everything can pile up. You could come over and help them clean their room, or just keep them company. 
  • Check in with them. Ask them how they’re feeling, and if they need your help. Even if it’s just a text, it could help them not feel as lonely to know someone cares.
  • Don’t act as if depression isn’t a problem or as if you can fix it yourself. Depression is a serious illness; you wouldn’t ask someone with a cold to just “get better”. You need to remember that treating it requires time.
  • If they start to show signs of being suicidal, it’s time to intervene. These signs can include giving away belongings, buying a weapon, showing dangerous behavior, talking about death, or feeling hopeless. You should talk to them alone, and ask them if they are contemplating suicide. Encourage them to talk to a therapist about it, and make sure to tell an adult. 

No one wants to lose someone important to them. Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in the USA, and it’s preventable if you take the right steps. Make sure to take depression seriously, and to help your friends if they’re struggling.

– Eva, Young Adult Advisory Board Emperor

This post is part of a series “Mental Health: Teen to Teen,” written by teens in the library’s Young Adult Advisory Board.

The Young Adult Advisory Board is made up of teen volunteers who desire to help with and be a part of the library’s events and services aimed at middle and high school students. Interested in joining? Fill out an application here.