Holiday Message from the United States Department of Health & Human Services Office of Adolescent Health

The holidays are in full swing but, as a nation, our hearts are heavy as we grieve the innocent lives lost in Newtown, Connecticut. This tragedy has prompted many of us to pause and consider ways to strengthen our connections with adolescents in our lives, both during the holidays and beyond.

May the holiday season provide you with opportunities to spend quality time with the adolescents in your lives. That’s one thing we can all do to help them build the resiliency they will need for good health their whole lives through.

Did You Know?
Strong bonds with parents and other caring adults help adolescents to handle stress and improve overall mental health.1 For help talking with teens about the recent tragedy, check out this new resource from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event.

Be Proud
86% of teens report that their parents always or sometimes let them know they were proud of something they had done.2

Text and Connect
Parents and other caring adults can text teens to let them know that they’re proud of them. Check out seven sample text messages on OAH’s Talking with Teens site!

Getting Mental Health Help:

  • If adolescents (or anyone in a family) need mental health help, SAMHSA’s Mental Health Services Locator is an online, map-based program that can help visitors find near-by facilities.
  • SAMHSA also operates a Disaster Distress Helpline. You can reach trained counselors who can provide crisis counseling, info on how to recognize distress and its effects, tips for healthy coping, and/or referrals to local crisis call centers. Open 24 hours, every day of the year, call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.
  • YouMatter is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline site for youth, complete with a blog where visitors can share problems and get support. Reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
  • 2-1-1 is an easy to remember telephone number that connects about 90% of the U.S. population to information about critical health and human services available in their community such as mental health services and support for youth and families. It is administered through a national partnership between United Way Worldwide and the Alliance of Information and Referral Services (AIRS).

Tools for Positive Parenting:

1 Masten, A. S., & Coatsworth, J. D. (1998). The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: Lessons from research on successful children. American Psychologist, 53(2), 205-220. Available here.

2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-44, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4713. Available here.