Emotional Well-Being

Emotional Well-Being

Parents in Action

Dr. Anne Marie Albano, director of CUCARD and author of You and Your Anxious Child: Free Your Child from Fears and Worries and Create a Joyful Family Life, recently spoke at an NYC Parents in Action and JED Foundation panel, “Emotional Well-Being Begins at Home.” The moderator of the panel was John MacPhee, executive director and CEO of JED, and other panelists from JED included Nance Roy, chief clinical officer, and Victor Schwartz, chief medical officer. Among other topics, the panel discussed how to distinguish typical adolescent behavior from signs of emotional distress and possible mental health concerns. Dr. Albano discussed behaviors that might indicate that something is amiss. “There’s normal developmental changes that occur,” said Dr. Albano. “Adolescence is adolescence, and it’s been known as the phase of ‘storm and stress’ since 1908. … So, we know that they’re going to be moody. But this is not simply moodiness,” she said, outlining symptoms such as irritability, dropping out of things that used to bring pleasure, not calling friends, isolating into bedrooms, and changes in sleep patterns. Dr. Schwartz joked that, because we all have our eyes on social media and screens, we sometimes have a better relationship with our dogs than we do with people. “Dogs aren’t on social media,” he said. “So, they still make great eye contact.” He and other panelists noted that anxiety has now taken over as the leading mental health concern among teens and young adults. On a more optimistic note, the panelists mentioned recent studies showing a decrease in substance abuse among teens and young adults. They also noted that this generation (Gen “Z”) is more open to talking about feelings and mental health than any past generations have been. Dr. Albano and her fellow panelists also covered how parents can talk and listen to their kids, developing resilience and basic life skills to help with transitioning to young adulthood, and the significance that seeking professional mental health support early on can have in terms of long-term prognosis.