• Supporting Teenagers During Covid | John MacPhee and Janis Whitlock | Episode 145

  • teenagers in a circle with text Supporting Teenagers During CovidTeens can be difficult, withdrawn, or moody during the best of times and these are not the best of times. Our teens and twenty somethings are dealing with a lot and it’s taking a toll. John MacPhee from the JED Foundation and Janis Whitlock of Cornell University join Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler to understand what’s happening to our teens during Covid. They are shining a light on the issues and showing us how we can support our teenagers during Covid. These experts have it covered from how to tell if your teen is struggling to tips for creating emotional wellness.


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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    Parents always think of giving to our kids, but we all need to give. A large part of what allows humans to grow healthily is that they have a sense of utility, a sense of meaning. Our teens need to give and to know what they give is valued.

    High Points From Our Conversation on Supporting Teenagers During Covid:

    Quote on how our teens need to give and to feel this is valuedOne of the big issues for teenagers during covid is feeling too far away from what they want to be near.

    The uncertainty of the pandemic is causing issues for teenagers.

    In addition to social isolation, changes in schooling and activities, some teens are also dealing with being sick or having sick family members or friends. They’re handling the economic fallout as well.

    They’re cut off from a sense of possibility and wondering who they’re going to be in the world.

    Humans have done a lot to cut ourselves off from the reality that there is a lot we can’t control. It’s rare to have a moment like this where it’s so revealed that we don’t have control. It helps when we focus on pieces we can control, resources we can leverage, and ways we can help others do the same.

    Parents need to keep an eye out for signs their teen is struggling. Listen to their tone of voice. Watch for consistently negative thinking or down emotions. Notice how they’re engaging with other people. Be aware if they are missing classes or having trouble getting out of bed. Essentially, any disruption in how they move in the world. Seeing these things for a few weeks can be a sign they need some emotional wellness tools, support, or professional help from a coach or therapist.

    This time is intense for all of us and we need to bring more resources to bear to manage it.

    Most high schools and colleges have made their mental health resources available virtually so that’s the first place to go.

    Families should understand those resources before they need them.

    There are national crisis lines which can be used if you feel you’re in distress or crisis for any reason. Just text go, hello or any word to 741741 and a trained advisor will answer you. There is also a call-in line at 1-800-273-TALK. Every teen should know about these and have them in their phone.

    Things are intense. A natural response for teenagers during covid is to withdraw. They may withdraw to their room or behind a device. It’s normal for this to happen but we need to have agreements, as a family, on how we will stay connected.

    Parents need to pay attention to how we’re showing up. It’s not just teenagers struggling during covid. Are we withdrawing? How are we showing up for our family? We need to model healthy behavior. We can also be a magnet to draw our kids out and connect.

    One of the things that allows humans to grow emotionally healthy is that they have a sense of utility, a sense of meaning. Covid provides an opportunity for teenagers to do this. They can give to older relatives or neighbors, even in small ways. There’s great strength in these mutually beneficial relationships. They just need to feel valued.

    Parents can help mitigate effects of social isolation by checking in, building in more time to interact in more ways, encouraging and supporting kids seeing friends in ways that are responsible and safe. Humans are social creatures and we need this connection.

    We need to remind ourselves and our young people this isn’t going to last forever. We just need to hang in here and do the best we can for a little while.

    We can focus on deepening certain relationships during this time.

    Remember to look for the silver linings. We need positive thoughts and perspectives.

    The pandemic is giving us a new permission to discuss depression, anxiety, grief and other mental health challenges.

    Resources and Things Mentioned in Show:

    Warning Signs: A Parenting Guide for Discovering if Your Teen Is At Risk for Depression, Addiction, or Suicide

    Tips and resources to support us during the pandemic https://www.loveislouder.org 

    Protecting emotional health and preventing suicide https://jedfoundation.org

    National crisis hotline numbers:

      • Text line: text go, hello or anything to 741-741
      • Call-in line: 1-800-273-TALK

    Solutions For A Surely Teenager, Unmotivated Teenager, and Parental Burnout | Kanesha Baynard | Episode 142

    Help Your Teenager Find Purpose In Life | Tim Klein | Episode 146 — airs next week, October 12, 2020 on the Mighty Parenting podcast

    Other shows on anxiety depression grief:

    Our Guests John MacPhee and Janis Whitlock:

    John MacPhee of JED foundation and Janis Whitlock of Cornell discuss teens during CovidJohn MacPhee brings 25 years of leadership and management experience from the business and not-for-profit settings to his role as executive director and CEO of The Jed Foundation, a leading non-profit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults. Passionate about supporting young adults in their transition to adulthood, John advises several organizations including the S. Jay Levy Fellowship for Future Leaders at City College, Trek Medics, Crisis Text Line, the Health Policy and Management Department at the Mailman School of Public Health, and HIV Hero.

    Earlier in his career, he served in executive positions for Par Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Forest Laboratories, where he oversaw functions such as business development, alliance management, clinical development, regulatory affairs, sales and marketing. John continues to contribute to the development of novel medications for disorders such as Parkinson’s disease through board roles with Adamas Pharmaceuticals and Blackthorn Therapeutics. 

    In 2016, John received The Allan Rosenfield Alumni Award for Excellence in the field of public health from the Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He earned a BA from Columbia College, an MBA from New York University and an MPH from Columbia University.

    Janis Whitlock is a Research Scientist and the Associate Director for Teaching and Training in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research at Cornell University. She is the Director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery and has authored of publications on non-suicidal self-injury in adolescence and young adulthood, social media and mental health, and in youth connectedness to schools and communities. She earned a doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University (2003), a Masters of Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill (1994), and a BA from the University of California at Berkeley (1988). Dr. Whitlock was a 2019 recipient of the Francqui prize, a prestigious Belgian prize awarded in recognition of academic achievement in social sciences.

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit https://www.jedfoundation.org/ 

    Our Sponsor:

    Inward Bound Mindfulness Education—iBme— provides In-depth mindfulness programs for teens and young adults. Courses and retreats help them learn awareness, compassion, and concentration practices which develop deep listening skills, self-awareness, and communication—essential competencies for success in all areas of life. Offerings have expanded to include courses for parents and other adults; all available online for 2020.