Virtual town hall helps parents, kids deal with stress, seasonal depression

By: Brian Wells | Metro | Published December 18, 2021

 The United Way of Southeastern Michigan, along with Caleb’s Kids, held a virtual town hall Wednesday, Dec. 15, focused on ways to support kids who may be dealing with stress and seasonal depression. A list of resources are available for anyone who may be in distress or suffering a mental health crisis.

The United Way of Southeastern Michigan, along with Caleb’s Kids, held a virtual town hall Wednesday, Dec. 15, focused on ways to support kids who may be dealing with stress and seasonal depression. A list of resources are available for anyone who may be in distress or suffering a mental health crisis.

Photo by Brian Wells

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METRO DETROIT — On Dec. 15, officials from the United Way of Southeastern Michigan and Caleb’s Kids held a virtual town hall to share tips on how to cope with seasonal depression and stress, particularly in young people.

“This is a crisis that impacts all of us,” said Darienne Hudson, United Way of Southeastern Michigan’s president and CEO. “And we all need to do our part to help our young people get the support that they need.”

The presentation was led by Kiesha Jackson, executive director of Caleb’s Kids. Caleb’s Kids is a foundation that provides scholarships to high school seniors and has sponsored holiday care and wellness benefits for surviving families who have experienced suicide. The foundation also provides workshops to Detroit-area youth and parents.

 

Tips and strategies for dealing with stress
Jackson shared a series of tips and strategies to help cope with seasonal depression and stress.

It’s important for people to attend to self-care and pay attention to their emotional health, Jackson said. People need to be able to ensure that they are eating, sleeping and exercising, and maintaining a normal schedule, Jackson said.

“There are a wide range of feelings happening right now,” Jackson said. “And we have to give ourselves and our children time to process those feelings.”

While a person may need support, it is also important to realize that others may need additional support, too.

One of the biggest coping strategies, Jackson said, is talking to others as needed.

“It’s important that we process, that we discuss things that have happened so we can talk to our friends and family, but also talking to behavioral professionals that can help us process and manage the things that we are experiencing right now,” Jackson said.

Jackson also suggested avoiding overexposure to the media and taking time to enjoy activities that help you to focus on your well-being.

 

Know the signs and symptoms of stress
After a tragic event happens, such as the shooting at Oxford High School Nov. 30, it isn’t uncommon to have a feeling of nervousness, restlessness or tension, Jackson said.

But the signs of stress or depression can sometimes take a physical manifestation, too.

A person might feel an increased heart rate, and breathing may become more rapid. There can also be an increase in sweating and shakiness. People might also feel weak ohttp://michigan.gov/staywellr tired, even struggling to get out of bed.

“These are all signs that your body is processing distress, signs of that tension,” Jackson said.

Difficulty concentrating is also common, especially in younger people.

 

Helping young people deal with emotions
For some people, this may be the first time that they’ve felt anxious or panicked. It’s important for people to give themselves time to process and cope, Jackson said.

“There’s no rushing this process,” she said. “We have to talk through it, work through it and discuss what a path forward looks like.”

For parents with preschool-aged children, it’s important to stick to family routines and to be a resource to provide an extra avenue for comfort and care, Jackson said. That may come in the form of more attention and presence and avoiding any unnecessary separation.

“You don’t want your child to feel as though you’re not coming back to create that additional anxiety or stress,” Jackson said.

For younger children, encouraging them to express their feelings and emotions through activities such as drawing or storytelling can help them to process their emotions and continue with their daily routines.

Even with elementary-aged children, it is important to provide extra care and awareness for them. If they want to talk about things, allow them the space to do so, however often, without censorship.

For preteens and teenagers, it is important to allow them time to process and talk about their emotions. They should also be encouraged to discuss things among their peers, who may also be experiencing some of the same things.

 

Resources for extra care
For anyone who may be experiencing distress or a mental health crisis, there are options.

On the national level, people can text the Crisis Text Line by texting 4HOPE to 741741. Or, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available by calling (800) 273-TALK.

CrisisChat.org is an online chat service provided by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Military Crisis Line can also be reached by texting 838255. The Trevor Project, which focuses on the youth LGBTQ community, can be reached by calling (866) 488-7386.

Locally, there are resources on the Caleb’s Kids website, located at calebskids.org.

The state of Michigan also has resources at michigan.gov/staywell, and the United Way of Southeastern Michigan has resources at unitedwaysem.org/get-help.

Online crisis therapy services can be found online at reachusdetroit.org, oakgov.com/oaklandcares, and the Macomb County Community Mental Health website at mccmh.net.

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