GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- It’s an issue that could be affecting your own kid everyday and you may not even know it. Research shows 1 in 5 teens are struggling with mental health problems like feeling depressed, anxious or nervous. The hardest part for them is talking to someone about the way they feel.
But area organizations are working to change those numbers by starting a conversation with teens to be able to talk about how they feel.
“Our teens today are suffering from mental health challenges more than before," said Patty McCormick, development director at Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan, the only hospitality house option for families with teens with mental health issues in Grand Rapids.
It’s the home away from home for several families, including many of which have kids struggling with mental health.
“Anxiety, depression and anything that is a challenge for someone, that is affecting their behavior, that is affecting their life," McCormick said.
Officials say it’s not clear what’s causing the rise in mental health problems among teens, but they are ready to help.
"[we]are seeing an increase need for what we do and the services we provide so that teens from across Michigan can come here for forest view and pine rest for treatment there for their children. and we’ve seen a 50 percent increase in referrals from those two hospitals," she said.
That’s why local organization “i understand” has partnered with the Ronald McDonald House to host a three part open discussion series completely free for any family or young adult to open up about their mental health challenges.
“They can talk about it, they can share. it’s so important for teens, or for anyone really, to share that they’re having a struggle, and talk to somebody that they trust," McCormick said.
“Parental help and support is so important to teens today," she said. "That’s why we have this series, so that parents can learn how they can support their teens, how they can talk about, how they can recognize the signs that something might not be just a normal teenage reaction to the stress that they’re going through.”
An opportunity for parents that could one day save their child’s life.
"To provide the resources for parents and interested parties so that they can help those that they love," McCormick said.
The second part of the series is Wednesday night at the Ronald McDonald House, 1323 Cedar St NE, in Grand Rapids with the final part planned for May 1.
The events are free and open to the public. You can RSVP here.