Overland Park nonprofit group tackles teen mental health crisis

Farma Darya

Health providers in Johnson County, Kansas, are seeing an increase in teen mental health issues connected to social media. A local nonprofit organization started by Overland Park moms is giving professionals and parents tools to promote healthy habits when it comes to technology. Navigating technology with your kids can be a bumpy ride. “We are the first generation of parents raising digital natives and there is no roadmap to follow,” Tracy Foster said. That’s why the Overland Park mom of two helped found the nonprofit START, which stands for Stand Together and Rethink Technology.It’s helping to answer tough questions. “How should we feel about social media? How much gaming should we do? When should we give our kids a phone?” Foster said. She said health professionals she works with are seeing social media spur mental health issues among kids and teens at a rapidly rising rate. “Almost every client that they’re seeing, technology is a piece of it,” Foster said. “We are striving for perfection from what we see on a screen or what we see our friends posting,” said Rachael Perez, a social worker with Johnson County Mental Health. She’s seen firsthand the negative impact social media can have. “We turn to the what-ifs. What if I’m not good enough? What if they don’t like me? Which in turn leads to a lot of worthlessness feelings, a lot of hopelessness,” she said. Perez says training from START has given her tools to help kids and parents navigate challenges together. “Giving you those practical ways on how to talk with youth about technology without coming at them like they’re doing something wrong,” she said. “I want to be able to let them know that they are not alone.”Foster says for parents in this digital age, communication is key. “Just starting with that knowledge of ‘hey, I’m here, I’m on your side, I’m your advocate. I won’t overreact,” she said. “That’s what’s gonna help our kids start to come to us about these challenges that they’re facing.”The virtual training for mental health professionals is Thursday, April 21. You can sign up here. The Johnson County Mental Health Center is also putting on Screen Sanity series for parents starting April 28. For more information, click here. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

Health providers in Johnson County, Kansas, are seeing an increase in teen mental health issues connected to social media. A local nonprofit organization started by Overland Park moms is giving professionals and parents tools to promote healthy habits when it comes to technology.

Navigating technology with your kids can be a bumpy ride.

“We are the first generation of parents raising digital natives and there is no roadmap to follow,” Tracy Foster said.

That’s why the Overland Park mom of two helped found the nonprofit START, which stands for Stand Together and Rethink Technology.

It’s helping to answer tough questions.

“How should we feel about social media? How much gaming should we do? When should we give our kids a phone?” Foster said.

She said health professionals she works with are seeing social media spur mental health issues among kids and teens at a rapidly rising rate.

“Almost every client that they’re seeing, technology is a piece of it,” Foster said.

“We are striving for perfection from what we see on a screen or what we see our friends posting,” said Rachael Perez, a social worker with Johnson County Mental Health.

She’s seen firsthand the negative impact social media can have.

“We turn to the what-ifs. What if I’m not good enough? What if they don’t like me? Which in turn leads to a lot of worthlessness feelings, a lot of hopelessness,” she said.

Perez says training from START has given her tools to help kids and parents navigate challenges together.

“Giving you those practical ways on how to talk with youth about technology without coming at them like they’re doing something wrong,” she said. “I want to be able to let them know that they are not alone.”

Foster says for parents in this digital age, communication is key.

“Just starting with that knowledge of ‘hey, I’m here, I’m on your side, I’m your advocate. I won’t overreact,” she said. “That’s what’s gonna help our kids start to come to us about these challenges that they’re facing.”

The virtual training for mental health professionals is Thursday, April 21. You can sign up here.

The Johnson County Mental Health Center is also putting on Screen Sanity series for parents starting April 28. For more information, click here.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

https://www.kmbc.com/article/overland-park-nonprofit-group-tackles-teen-mental-health-crisis-spurred-by-social-media/39739702

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