Summer break may push some teens into self-destructive behavior

Northwest Iowa – Most kids look forward to summer vacation, but three months away from school and friends can cause some children to feel isolated and spiral into depression, anxiety and even substance use. Avery Desy, adolescent unit coordinator at Rosecrance Behavioral Health in Sioux City, says the lack of structure and routine during the summer break can be difficult for some pre-teens and teens.

A recent survey finds more than 20-percent of adolescents suffer from anxiety symptoms, while 17-percent report symptoms of depression. Desy says providing structure in their daily lives can be a big benefit.

She suggests parents make time for daily conversations with their kids, even if that means staying awake late until a child returns home.

Studies find about nine in every ten American teenagers have a cell phone, and research is starting to link excessive cell phone use to a rise in young peoples’ depression and suicide rates. Desy says parents can help find things for their teens to do with their free time so they’re not staring at social media for hours on end.

Parents should watch for any behavior changes, mood swings, altered sleep or eating patterns, or signs of self-harm. Desy says it’s essential for parents and caregivers to be proactive in developing a plan to support and guide their adolescents.

Rosecrance facilities in Iowa serve more than 7,000 teens and adults every year at outpatient treatment clinics in Sheldon, Sioux City, Cherokee, Davenport, Estherville, Le Mars, and Spencer.


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