Mustang, Okla. ,
After a tragic week, the superintendent of Mustang Public Schools sent a letter to parents asking them to talk with their children about mental health and suicide.
On Sunday, Mustang Superintendent Charles Bradley shared an email to parents, asking them to check in with their kids each day to see what it was like, including any bad moments they encountered. Bradley said he knows firsthand that these conversations aren’t easy, but they can start a chain of communication between parents and children.
Timothy Doty, a licensed psychologist and member of the Oklahoma Psychological Association, said it’s important for every parent inside and outside of Mustang to know what to do if someone is experiencing mental health issues.
“It’s happening in every school. It’s happening in every district and every part of our state,” Doty said.
He said it’s up to the adults to take the lead.
“If an adult can be contacted, we can connect children with trained professionals,” said Doty, who is also co-owner of Green Country Psychology.
Doty said parents and adults should listen to students without fear of punishment.
Doty said, “Your average middle school students – our average high school students – do not yet have the developmental capacity to understand and process complex social interactions and complex emotions around things that happen all the time in communication. ”
Dottie said adding questions like how their children are fitting into friend groups can help.
She also suggested that parents do more than just listen. He said that making rules for children on social media would be good for their safety.
Doty said one of the challenges she faces is why parents should talk to their children about what to do if they hear someone threatening to harm themselves. According to the psychologist, allowing children to talk and not scaring them from talking can be life-saving.
“We want to empower those kids to speak up and say to parents, ‘My friend is doing so-and-so and I’m scared,'” Dottie said.
If someone is struggling with mental health issues, they can call 988 to get support and resources.