Mental Health & Suicide
Many kids in Norwalk were struggling with their depression, anxiety, trauma, suicidal ideation... even before COVID.
Scroll down to see our infobrief, or click below to download our November 2020 slideshow about youth mental health trends, with updates on what's happening in Norwalk during COVID.
Mental Health Warning Signs
1-minute video by NAMI
Mental Health in Norwalk During COVID
Mental health section of TNP's 1/19/22 presentation for parents. Presenters: Gail Melanson, Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance Center, and Denique Weidema-Lewis, Norwalk ACTS. (12 minutes)
Mental Health FAQ
What do I need to know about mental health?
Adults may feel embarrassed to talk about anxiety or depression, but that stigma prevents people from seeking help. It's important to talk openly about mental health and stress with your family.
Mental health struggles affect 1 in 5 of us each year. Acknowledge when you yourself are struggling. Role-model positive coping skills like reaching out to a friend, going for a walk, exercising, or meditating/praying. Recognize the value of counseling.
Middle school is often a time when depression & anxiety develop. Children who do not have support and learn coping skills may turn to alcohol, drugs, or self-harm. Kids need to be have a couple of trusted adults they can go to for help.
Learn the warning signs of a mental health crisis & how to help. Take a Mental Health First Aid or other training program in Norwalk or in the region.
How do I know if someone's struggling with their mental health?
Someone in your family may be struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness. Signs may include any or all of the following:
mood swings, sadness, apathy or anger
changes in eating (either too much or too little)
changes in sleep (can't sleep or can't get out of bed)
racing thoughts / anxiety that won't turn off even at night
isolating themselves from others
lack of interest in usual activities
disorganization, inability to function as usual
To check up on your/family's mental health, take a free screening here. Kids can visit the school social worker or go to the School-Based Health Center. If you're worried about how someone is doing, ASK them, listen to them, tell them you care, and help them get help.
Why are so many kids depressed?
Nationally there has been a distressing increase in anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation among youth and young adults for years even before COVID. Factors may include:
increased screen time, and therefore decreased time on other hobbies
social media, which can create negative self-esteem, jealousy and/or include cyberbullying
high pressure academic & homework schedules
less time outdoors
poor diet & exercise, which affect mental health negatively
Both teens and parents should be aware of these factors. Have open conversations about ways to live a more balanced life.
How can parents protect their kids?
During adolescence, kids are supposed to start becoming more independent and practicing new social skills, including dating. It can be stressful... and sometimes they will fail.
Give your kids opportunities to try new things and go new places on their own.
Provide boundaries and support, rather than control.
Allow them to fail and learn from their mistakes.
Keep your lines of communication open and make sure they feel your love and support.
Have kids enter the Crisis Text Line (741741) in their phones for mental health crises.
Make sure your college-aged young adult knows the Crisis Text Line, campus counseling center, & other resources.
What about suicide?
Tragically, suicide occurs at every age. Our 2021 youth survey found that 13% of Norwalk middle & high schoolers reported a past-year suicide attempt. If you are worried about someone, don't wait! Ask them, get them talking, and get them help. Dial 2-1-1, option 1 for CT's free mobile crisis service.
We can provide suicide prevention training to groups in English or Spanish. (Email request here.)
If you've lost someone to suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has helpful resources and can also offer free Healing Conversations with someone who has shared experience. There are also free local Suicide Loss Support Groups in Darien, Greenwich, Trumbull and Westport, all of which are online during COVID. (See flyer below)