A Talk to Have Before Leaving High School
When I read an editorial in the Los Angeles Times on June 15, 2018, I thought that the suggestions in the article made sense, considering the continuous rise in suicide rates and the suicide prevention community trying to figure out ways to reduce the rates. It is something that school counselors can easily do.When I read an editorial in the Los Angeles Times on June 15, 2018, I thought that the suggestions in the article made sense, considering the continuous rise in suicide rates and the suicide prevention community trying to figure out ways to reduce the rates. It is something that school counselors can easily do. The author discussed the fact that her parents had a number of talks with her about many issues, but no one ever mentioned mental illness, depression, anxiety, or even the fact that there would be ups and downs.
I think that school counselors can help in this area by meeting with seniors and parents and discuss the fact that life is about to change. How do you prepare for life changes? For students going on to college, school counselors can discuss what kinds of services are available on their college campuses. What kinds of things help manage stress? How can students find activities that might be of interest? School counselors can also discuss what kinds of questions parents should be asking when checking in with their child, such as “Are you making friends? Do you know where the campus counseling center is?”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a guide to help with the conversation, and it can be found at https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/Publications-Reports/Guides/Starting-the-Conversation. There is a video and a guide that can be downloaded.
Don't forget, however, those students not going on to college. A different conversation can be had with those students to discuss what changes might they anticipate. How will life be different for them? What does depression and anxiety look like and how can they get help should they experience these things? How can they find activities in the community so they can still feel connected?
Providing a list of national and local hotline numbers might be useful as well. A few to get started are:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255
National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-7233
National Sexual Assault Hotline (800) 656-4673
Creating a card with these numbers that could fit in a wallet might be useful as well.