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LET'S DIG DEEPER................Here are the contributing factors that led to our youth feeling trapped, unsupported and unheard: Mental Health Trauma: Many youth experience trauma, whether through violence, abuse, neglect, or other adverse experiences. These experiences can lead to mental health challenges such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Social media and technology: Social media and technology have both positive and negative impacts on the mental health of youth. On one hand, they can connect young people with support networks and resources. On the other hand, excessive screen time and exposure to cyberbullying and online harassment can negatively impact mental health. Stigma: Stigma is created by misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding mental illness, including the belief that it is a sign of weakness or that individuals can simply "snap out of it." to replace therapy and mental health support. These misconceptions lead to judgment and discrimination against youth which leads to them suffering in silence and not reaching out to get support. Access to care: Many youth face barriers to accessing mental health care, including financial barriers, lack of insurance, and difficulty navigating the mental health care system. Incarceration Disruption of Support Systems: When a caregiver is incarcerated, it disrupts the youth's support system, leaving them with fewer resources to cope with their mental health challenges. They may lose access to emotional support, guidance, and practical assistance, which can exacerbate feelings of helplessness and despair. Poverty: Incarceration often leads to financial strain on families, particularly if the incarcerated individual was the primary breadwinner. This economic instability can create additional stress for the youth and their family, impacting their access to basic needs and mental health resources. This can lead to survival tactics and criminal activity to survive daily. Increased Risk of Involvement in Criminal Activity: Research suggests that youth with a parent or family member who has been incarcerated may be at a higher risk of engaging in delinquent behavior themselves. This can further compound their mental health struggles and increase their likelihood of becoming involved in the criminal justice system. Emotional Impact: The stigma associated with incarceration can cause shame and embarrassment for the youth, exacerbating feelings of isolation and low self-esteem. They may struggle with feelings of anger, confusion, and grief over the loss of their loved one and the impact it has on their family. Family Dysfunction Families in dysfunction: May include a lack of emotional support and understanding for the youth's mental health struggles. This absence of support can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation, making it harder for the youth to cope with their crisis. Invalidation: Dysfunctional family dynamics may involve invalidating the youth's feelings or experiences, dismissing their struggles as insignificant or unworthy of attention. This invalidation can lead to feelings of worthlessness and exacerbate mental health issues. Conflict: Constant conflict, tension, or abuse within the family environment can create immense stress for the youth, worsening their mental health symptoms and triggering crises. Living in a chaotic or abusive environment can make it difficult for them to find stability and peace of mind. Unhealthy Boundaries: Dysfunctional families often have unclear or unhealthy boundaries, leading to role confusion for the youth. They may be forced to take on adult responsibilities or caretaking roles beyond their capacity, which can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and exacerbate their mental health struggles. PTSD: Exposure to trauma within the family, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, or neglect, can have profound and lasting effects on the youth's mental health. Traumatic experiences can increase the risk of developing conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and exacerbate existing mental health issues, leading to crises. Lack of Coping Skills: Growing up in a dysfunctional family environment may hinder the youth's development of healthy coping mechanisms. Instead, they may adopt maladaptive coping strategies, such as substance abuse or self-harm, to deal with stress and emotional pain, further worsening their mental health.

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