Naperville Police and KidsMatter Host Youth Mental Health Forum

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Parent Forum

Thursday night, the Naperville Police Department and KidsMatter teamed up to host a parent forum on youth mental health – “Protecting Our Children: Understanding and Monitoring Youth Mental Health.”

“We hope parents will feel like they’re not alone, that they have people there to help and there are tools and tips that hopefully they can take away and help their families and again, a lot of it is the proactive preventative measures,” said Nina Menis, CEO and executive director of KidsMatter.

Local Experts

Three local experts from Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, the Fox Valley Institute, and the Naperville Police Department provided a presentation to inform parents about those tools and tips. The panelists spoke about a number of topics including the importance of monitoring social media and online activity, stressors for youth, signs a child is struggling, how parents can help, and resources for parents.

“Mental health issues aren’t like the cold or the flu where you can see the signs and symptoms, it’s a struggle internally,” said Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres. “So I said to Nina we continue to see this, we need to help parents and maybe by getting ahead of it and helping the parents understand those signs and symptoms that their child may be struggling with mental health, we could really help save some lives and get some folks on the path to recovery.”

Local Statistics

Some of the signs of a depressed or suicidal child or teen include hypersensitivity, changes in social behavior, and inaccurate self-appraisal. Arres said this past fall, a couple of local teenagers took their own lives. When he heard about others in surrounding communities, he felt a call to action.

Overall, the police department has seen a slight uptick of mental health calls during the pandemic, but “it wasn’t very far off of our averages over the last five years. And that could very well be that people aren’t choosing to report to the police department too,” said Arres.

Menis said KidsMatter is seeing a greater increase in youth depression and anxiety from the pandemic. A mental health resource fair with area organizations was also a part of the event. A full presentation of the panel can be found on the KidsMatter website.

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.