Mesquite to Host Forum on Teen Mental Health

The city of Mesquite continues its virtual Community Health Forum series with speakers on teen mental health and suicide prevention awareness.

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The city of Mesquite will continue its Recover Mesquite efforts with an online forum Tuesday night that covers teens and mental health.

"Children obviously take their lead from us as the adults," Mesquite Independent School District behavior specialist Kelly Smith said. "So whenever we are stressed out or under a lot of change and transition, depending on how we handle stress, that's going to ripple down to our children."

A recent national survey showed teenagers are having trouble coping with the pandemic's "new normal." Forty-six percent of parents said their teens were experiencing new or worsening mental health conditions this past year.

"The stigma for mental health, I wish I could say that it's gone away," Smith said. "It's really hard for people to admit they have a problem."

"I wish we could go back in time and try all these different things and see if it would make a difference so that Matthew could still be here with us, but we can't do that," suicide loss survivor Shirley Weddle said.

Weddle's only child, Matthew, died by suicide in 2014 when he was a student at the University of Texas at Dallas. Weddle said she noticed a change in her funny, smart, smiley son. He seemed stressed about school.

"We told him he could take a break if he needed to and we also arranged that if wanted to see a counselor, I'd already talked to one," Weddle said. "What we didn't know what that he wasn't eating well. He wasn't sleeping well."

Both Weddle and Smith will speak at the online forum about the warning signs and how to get help.

"When we do things in Matthew's name, it's sort of like he continues on," Weddle said. "And he's able to continue to make a difference."

The City of Mesquite Virtual Community Health Forum starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday. It can be accessed at this link.

If you or someone you know is a suicide loss survivor, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention can help find a support group.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741.

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