Jeff Yalden Talks About Teen Mental Health

Talking Mental Health in Killingly, CT to students, staff, and community

Jeff Yalden Talks Mental Health in Killingly, CT

Jeff Yalden Talks Mental Health in Killingly, CT

 

(L to r) Killingly students Jaylyn, Abbie and Colby had their picture taken with Jeff Yalden after his presentation. (D. Coffey / Courant Community)

Denise CoffeyContact Reporter Staff Writer

Motivational speaker Jeff Yalden didn’t sugarcoat his words to parents at a community conversation, held at Killingly High School on Nov. 15.

“There is an epidemic of teen suicide in the country,” Yalden told them. “We need to talk about it.”

Yalden was brought in to speak with students at Killingly High School and Killingly Intermediate School. He met with teachers for a professional development segment. But the Wednesday night talk was geared to parents, and the event was open to parents and community members from throughout northeastern Connecticut.

Yalden’s talk was far ranging. He moved from the stages of human development to social media platforms, self esteem to setting personal boundaries, self medication to sleep deprivation. He relied on data from academic studies, information from law enforcement officers, and his life experiences as a Marine, teacher, and coach. And he shared his own mental health history with the crowd.

Yalden uses cognitive therapy and medication to manage a bipolar condition he was diagnosed with while he was in the service. He knows what it’s like to be depressed and have suicidal tendencies.

“I live this myself,” he said. “I’m not just teaching it. I’ll be on medication forever and that’s okay. It’s okay to ask for help.”

He is a big bear of a man with arms covered in tattoos. The black T-shirt he wore read: Love Yourself. Be Influential. Change the World. He wasn’t afraid to walk up and down the aisles, call out to people, sit down next to them, talk loudly – or softly – to share his message.

“Parenting is 24/7 and it’s harder than ever,” he said.

Yalden spoke for nearly two hours. He has traveled to every state and to 48 countries, and has appeared on MTV and countless radio shows to spread the news about understanding and identifying depression in kids, and helping them deal with it effectively.

He talked about red flags: lack of energy, withdrawal, anxiety, irritability, anger, weight fluctuations, sadness, indifference about the future. If five or more of those symptoms persist for two weeks, it’s indicative of a serious depression that must be addressed.

He talked about the negative impact social media has on youth and how one University of Michigan study found that using Facebook can make us miserable.

“Kids have to know they can trust you,” he said. “They have to know that you care about them. If you don’t think you are the No. 1 trusted adult they’ll go to, you have to reevaluate your parenting.”

Yalden’s advice was to set balance and boundaries. Be the examples you want your children to follow, he said. Mandate time off from electronic devices. Make children be accountable. The primary rule: be invested in your children’s lives.

“Know their passwords,” he said. “Know the apps they use, the websites they frequent, the friends they have.”

He shared clues that could indicate a youngster was contemplating suicide, including alcohol abuse, stockpiling pills, unexplained aggression or irritability, purchasing guns, a heightened interest in religion or a disinterest in religion. Factors that can contribute to depression and suicide can be wide ranging, including divorce, violence in the home, substance abuse, disappointment, the inability to find success at school.

“Kids don’t know how to ask for help,” Yalden said. “Most kid suicides are not on a school’s radar.”

“We continue to have conversations about student well-being, mental health, and developing the whole child,” KHS Principal Elise Guari said. “We’re aware that we need to keep the conversation going.”

Taylyn Lemoine was impressed with the talk Yalden gave.

“He told the truth,” she said. “I’ve never heard anyone talk about it like he has.”

For more information on Yalden or teen depression and suicide, go to www.jeffyalden.com. Or visit his Mental Health website www.JeffYaldenFoundation.com.

 

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Author:Jeff Yalden, Youth Motivational Speaker

Youth Motivational Speaker & Teen Life Coach. Since 1992, Jeff Yalden has been mesmerizing audiences with his engaging style and passion. Jeff is a story-teller that every where he speaks, he guarantees he is real and in the moment, perfect for every audience. He is one of a kind. He's interactive and nobody pours as much energy and passion into their programs that Jeff does. Guaranteed, Jeff will be a defining moment and a highlight of your students lives. www.JeffYalden.com

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