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NBC 7 Interviews Dr. Maker about Kids In Crisis: Addressing the Growing Mental Health Crisis Among Children and Teens


The mental health crisis among teens has reached alarming levels. According to the CDC, 22% of high school students reported having seriously considered suicide in the past year. This percentage is even higher among females (30%), American Indians/Alaska Natives (27%), and lesbian, gay, or bisexual teens (45%). The statistics are staggering and call for immediate action and increased awareness.

In the NBC 7 Documentary “Kids in Crisis,” Dr. Azmaira Maker sheds light on this critical issue. The documentary highlights the increasing number of children and teens grappling with mental health challenges in San Diego. For instance, Rady’s Hospital has seen a 30% increase in children visiting the Psychiatry Emergency Room for self-harm and suicidality.

Walter Philips, CEO of San Diego Youth Services, emphasizes the severity of the situation, stating, “Some of the statistics are really staggering, and frankly, we have a crisis.” (KPBS 2024).  This documentary provides an essential perspective on why adolescents are increasingly turning to self-harm and suicide, and what steps can be taken for prevention and early intervention.

Understanding the Crisis

One significant question raised by youth suicides is why adolescents and now even younger children are resorting to self-harm and suicide so frequently. Dr. Maker, in the documentary, offers valuable insights and practical suggestions for parents, teachers, professionals, and the community to increase awareness and intervene early. For example: 

1. Spotting the Warning Signs

First, recognizing the warning signs of mental health issues in teens and children is crucial. Parents and caregivers should be vigilant and look for subtle, moderate, and severe changes in their child’s behavior. Some key areas to monitor include:

  • Eating habits: Sudden changes in appetite or weight.
  • Social behavior: Withdrawal from friends and activities.
  • Academic performance: Decline in grades or loss of interest in school.

When these signs are present, it’s important to start by asking gentle, open-ended questions and listening attentively. Some questions to consider include:

  • How are you sleeping?
  • Can we talk about how you’re feeling lately?
  • Are you happy with your grades and friends?

2. Steps to Take if You’re Concerned

If you notice warning signs, it’s crucial to act promptly:

  1. Talk to Your Child: Have an open and honest conversation. Express your concerns without judgment and listen to their feelings and thoughts.
  2. School Counselor Meeting: Schedule a meeting with the school counselor to conduct an initial assessment. They can provide support and resources tailored to your child’s needs.
  3. Seek Urgent Help: If the situation is urgent, do not hesitate to go to an urgent behavioral health unit or the emergency room.

3. Managing Stress and Social Media

Managing stressors is another critical aspect of supporting teen and child mental health. Encourage your child to reduce their stress as much as possible and talk about their feelings openly. Here are some strategies:

  • Set Boundaries for Social Media: Educate yourself with your child about the impact of social media on mental health. Establish boundaries and encourage open communication about their online experiences.
  • Reduce Stress: Help your child identify and manage stressors. Encourage them to engage in activities they enjoy and socialize with peers. Friends and fun are great buffers for children.

Aspiring Families: Here to Help

At Aspiring Families, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive mental health services for children, teens, and families. Our multidisciplinary team of experienced professionals offers a range of services designed to support children and teens struggling with mental health challenges. We provide:

  • Individual and family therapy: Tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and family.
  • Neurofeedback: Unique FDA approved EEG biofeedback training with no side effects.
  • Expressive Arts Therapy: Utilizing multimedia tools of art, clay, movement, music, and writing to express oneself and learn to cope with stressors. 
  • Group therapy: Providing a supportive environment for children and teens to connect and share their experiences.
  • Parent Guidance and Educational Workshops: For parents and caregivers on recognizing and intervening in effective ways for mental health issues.

The growing mental health crisis among children and teens is a pressing issue that requires immediate attention and action. We encourage you to watch the NBC 7 Documentary “Kids in Crisis” to gain a deeper understanding of this crisis and learn more about how you can help. At Aspiring Families, we are here to support you and your family every step of the way.

For more information on our services, please contact us directly. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of children and teens struggling with mental health issues.