It is everywhere. It is wide spread, and it is a major issue in America amongst our children. In my 20 plus years of practicing medicine, I have never seen what I am seeing. It is a state of emergency, and parents and friends need to be aware of what is happening to our children! In Colorado from April 2019-2021, the demand for pediatric behavioral health treatment increased by 90%! We saw this increase across most of the country, including the Lehigh Valley. In Colorado, suicide is now the No. 1 cause of death among youth as young as 10 years of age!
So what is the cause! Is it the prescription drugs, is it the legalized marijuana use amongst our youth starting in middle school, is it the lack of sleep from too much screen time, is it too much social media, is it our tainted food supply with all the preservatives and GMO food. Is it the notion that our children are being taught that everyone is a winner and everyone gets a trophy or prize. Is it the lack of religion or God in our lives that gives people hope and something to believe in. I do not know the answer to this, but I can tell you that if we turn our backs on this problem America is going to continue to decline, just as Rome did!
We are now seeing wait lists for mental health treatment, and many are filled to capacity and cannot take new patients. Depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders and suicide are rampant. Parents you need to be involved and vigilant with your children. Now that life is normalizing somewhat from COVID we need to get our children out and socializing with their peers! Get them back involved in life in sports and youth groups, volunteering, a job. We want them involved with others and society in a positive role!
So lets begin with the basics: No 1: Exercise- This is crucial to mental health! Your children need to exercise. The more the better! Get outside, and get your Vitamin D! I do not care what form of exercise it is whether it be walking, running, biking, swimming, or pogo stick you need to get them moving! No excuses, get them out of their room and off of social media and get them moving!
No 2: Food as medicine! Plain and simple. Refine their diets. Organic non-GMO foods. Most will say they cannot afford this, but if you stop buying all the processed junk food you will have lots more money to spend. Stop making excuses! I think wheat and our GMO grains could be changing our brain function. Our wheat is nothing like the song amber waves of grain. It does not move, it is 18 inches tall and is round up ready! If you cannot find non GMO grains then you are better of going gluten free. Start with our babies. Their first food should not be cereal! It should be avocado, banana-fruits and veggies! Really any foods other than raw honey. In some societies liver is the first food! A healthy diet from the beginning is so important! Let’s all remember good whole food vitamins. Teen female and male vitamins to be specific to them. Children’s whole food vitamins for 2 years and up. DHA for the brain, and probiotics for the gut because of the huge brain gut connection!
No 3: Limit screen time and social media. Take away the cell phones and shut down the computers. No one can withstand the pressures of how wonderful everyone else’s life is but yours! The cyber bulling and unreal expectations of how one should look and act is impossible to compete with. It is over the top and unhealthy to constantly focus on!
No 4: Sleep. It is so important, yet it seems to elude us. Our brains are forever running, and it is not sustainable! Our brains need to rest for good mental health and clarity! Magnesium is great for calming. Give it in the evening, soak in Epsom salts, rub it on in creams. Melatonin here and there is also okay in children but not daily. Limit TV, computer, and cell phone use in the evening. Let them read or play calming games. Let them settle for an hour before turning off the lights. Try to keep the room as dark as possible to not interfere with the sleep cycle.
No 5: Prescription and non-prescription drug use. My goal in my practice is to keep my children as drug free as possible. Big pharma’s moto is a patient cured is a customer lost! However, I would rather have healthy children, and lots of them then a practice filled with the ill! I would rather offer up natural solutions first, then move on as needed. Again food as medicine is so important. The legalization of marijuana was a big mistake. This tells our children that it is okay to use drugs. I believe Colorado is in such crisis because of this. Studies show that chronic marijuana use causes depression and cognitive decline, mood changes, anxiety, low motivation. Isn’t this what we are seeing? Just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is good for you! However, do not get me wrong. There are legitimate uses for medical marijuana!
No 6: Therapy: It is so important to have someone to talk to. If no therapists or counselors are available find a friend, a youth pastor, a teacher, anyone who is willing to listen and help! Everyone needs someone to talk to. Find that someone for your child!
So these are my thoughts. I hope this helps those who are in need. There are good holistic supplements out there as effective as drugs, or in combination with prescription drugs when necessary! We need to stop the mental health pandemic before it is too late for America!