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This project was created by the Jefferson County Communities That Care coalition and is housed within Jefferson County Public HealthThis resource was developed with funding from a Communities That Care grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, a grant from Community First Foundation and a Drug-Free Communities grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the grant providers.

Twelve Talks to

Have With Teens

Hopefulness & Coping

The teen years are a time of rapid social, emotional and physical development. You can support the teen you love by talking to them about their strategies for dealing with the ups and downs, as well as talking to them about their hopes for next week, next year and even years from now.

 

  • Teens often feel a great deal of pressure. They may have to navigate academic and social pressures, bullying and harassment, sexual assault, depression and anxiety, family instability, substance abuse, identifying as LGBTQIA+, relationship issues or so many other issues causing them stress. 

  • Even just asking  your teen about how they feel can help guide them toward finding their own hopefulness and coping strategies. When adults validate and normalize a variety of emotions like anger, happiness, sadness, hope and frustration, teens learn that it’s normal to have many different emotions (and some all at the same time) and they don’t need to be hidden or dealt with alone.

 

  • Teens (and adults) need to practice healthy self-care and coping. Identifying and prioritizing healthy activities like getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising, listening to music, laughing with friends and doing things that your teen really enjoys can make a huge difference on how they feel emotionally. 

  • By offering consistent modeling and support to our youth, adults can help increase youth hopefulness and the use of healthy coping strategies

 

  • Experts find that when adults support teens in managing their emotions and using coping skills, instead of trying to fix the teen’s problem for them, they learn resiliency. Let them know you are proud of them when they deal with challenges.

  • In 2017, 11 out of 30 students in Jefferson County Communities That Care focus area experienced depressive symptoms and 2 of every 30 students reported that they had attempted suicide in the past year. Communicate to your teen that seeking mental health care for depression or suicidality is a sign of strength. 

Hear about strategies for managing stress and promoting resiliency. (8:06)

How to start a conversation

  • Look for an opener when someone you know, or a person on TV or the radio, mentions either positive or negative coping. Ask your teen: 

    • Do you think they are doing that as a coping strategy?

    • I wonder if that's working for them or not? If possible, follow up by asking them about their coping strategies and how well they work.

  • Ask questions that show you are thinking about them, such as:

    • You seem kind of stressed. What do you need?” Then, follow up with an appealing offer based on what they need such as: "Should we sit here and talk?" “Can I get you some food?” “Need a hug?” “Want to go for a drive/walk/ride?”

 

  • During high school, most teens in Jefferson County will experience knowing someone who dies by suicide or violence. When a high-profile suicide happens, or if someone your teen knows dies by suicide, talk about it. It's a common misconception that asking about suicidal thoughts will plant ideas; however, talking about suicide does not increase the risk of developing suicidal thoughts. 

 

 

  • A video can be a great conversation starter. This video, Resilience, provides an interesting perspective from author Alyson Reid-Laradem, who talks about different types of coping and how stress levels change in the teenage years.

Quick tips

  • Be honest. You have had ups and downs in your life — it's normal and okay to talk about these issues with teens.​

 

  • Act as a role model by pointing out your own positive coping strategies in lighthearted ways like: 

    • "Yeah, you may or may not have noticed that if I don't exercise, I become rather unfriendly... and so, I'm going out for a run."

    • "Sometimes baking cookies is almost like a ladder to climb out of my own bad mood."

    • "For me, talking to my best friend/doctor/therapist/religious leader helps me figure out stuff. I just kind of have trouble figuring out on my own."

  • Remind your teen that getting help, including help with mental health issues, shows strength and courage.

  • Tell your teen directly and multiple times (and even if they roll their eyes) that you are proud of what they have overcome using their determination, resilience, and other strengths.

Things to Do

  • Encourage your teen to notice the link between basic self-care and feeling great. Basic self-care includes: eating healthy food, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, exercising, grooming and doing fun, meaningful activities.
     

  • Put the Colorado Crisis Service number (1-844-493-8255)  in your phone—and your teen’s phone. Encourage them to use it if they or someone they know needs to talk. 
     

  • If you have a firearm in the house, lock it up to prevent your teen, or one of their friends, from accessing it. If you know that anyone in your home has thoughts of suicide, remove the gun from the home. Options for storage are shown on a map created by the Colorado Firearms Safety Coalition

Help

  • If you think your teen is having suicidal thoughts, ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide, and if they indicate that they are, please get help immediately. The Colorado Crisis Services Line provides confidential support, info and referrals to anyone in need. Text "TALK" to 38255 or call 1-844-493-8255

  • If you are looking for mental health care in Jefferson County, a good place to start is by calling Jefferson Center at 303-425-0300.

  • Learn to #BeThe1To offer support if someone you know struggles with hopelessness or thoughts of suicide. 

Recommended Resource

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Colorado Crisis Services

https://belowthesurfaceco.com/

Other Recommended Resources

 

  • At Health Huddle Physical Health, the Gold Crown Foundation and Children's Hospital Colorado provide resources and articles on healthy habits for teens, updated weekly.

     

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