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By Andrea Delbanco
Editor In Chief, TIME for Kids

When the office of Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, reached out to TIME for Kids last month to talk about mental health, my interest was more than piqued. Dr. Murthy had recently issued an urgent youth mental health advisory, a call to action for the entire country. We were eager to do our part to help kids—by giving them guidance about how to ask for help, how to help others, and what their community can do.

Though the report makes it clear that young people’s mental health is a long-standing concern, most parents are well aware that the COVID crisis presents its own problems. At TFK, we often hear from kids who are struggling. They tell us they’re sad, lonely, anxious. There’s been a big uptick in this kind of communication since quarantining began, in March 2020. And my children aren’t immune. As I’ve written about many times, one of my genetic gifts to my girls is a tendency toward anxiety. The last two years have been a roller-coaster ride. And I hate roller coasters.

Anyway, back to that call to action: TIME for Kids is here to help. We’ve collected resources on this topic, including previous articles and worksheets, as well as guides for educators and caregivers. In addition, your kids can:

  • Read this week's 8+ Family issue of TIME for Kids, including our cover story on mental health.
  • Watch a video of TFK Kid Reporter Ronak Bhatt talking to the Surgeon General.
  • Listen to TFK’s weekly podcast, TFK Explains, which tackles this topic.

For easy-to-access talking points, here are Dr. Murthy’s top tips for kids, which he shared with TFK Kid Reporter Ronak Bhatt:

❤️ Pay attention to how you feel. “This might sound like an obvious one,” Dr. Murthy says. “But a lot of times, we can go for a long time feeling sad or worried or stressed and not recognize that.” Take a pause. Check in with yourself. How are you feeling today?

🧡 Connect with people you love. Reaching out to friends and family can “make a huge difference,” Dr. Murthy says. You don’t have to discuss anything sad or serious if you don’t want to. Just talking or spending time with others can improve your mood and help you feel connected.

💛 Talk to a trusted adult. If you’re feeling down, Dr. Murthy suggests confiding in a trusted adult. This might be a family member, a friend, a teacher, or a coach. “A lot of schools have counselors or school nurses you can check in with, as well,” he adds.

💚 Find sources of inspiration. Keep a list of things that make you feel good when you read, watch, or listen to them. “We all need a toolbox of things that we can reach for,” Dr. Murthy says. “Poems, songs, books, speeches—whatever it might be for you.”

💙 Take care of your body. Eat well, stay hydrated, and get good sleep. Fresh air and exercise help, too. “I found that when I’m physically active, it actually lifts my mood,” Dr. Murthy says. “It also has the benefit of getting my mind off of some of the challenges I have.”

💜 Help others. “One of the hidden antidotes to sadness and loneliness is service,” Dr. Murthy says. “When we help other people, not only do we strengthen our [connections]. . . . we also remind ourselves that we have a lot of beauty and value and strength to add to the world.”

I’m always here: andrea@time.com.

Best,

Andrea

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