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Teen mental health, social media link explored in upcoming education series

Tri-Valley sessions offer helpful tech tips for parents and youth

Outside influences like school, cellphones and social media are common burdens of modern adolescence. Tri-Valley parents can learn helpful tips for spotting and addressing these stressors in their children at an upcoming free event called "Raising Emotionally Healthy Kids."

Guest speakers and educators from local nonprofit Axis Community Health will host the multi-week educational series, which explores a recent increase in depression, anxiety and suicide among youths and the impact that kids' social media and cellphone use can have.

"Teens are faced with stress from so many aspects of modern life that it can seem overwhelming. But, with the right tools and information, parents can help," Emma Gil, one of Axis' primary prevention educators, said in a statement.

According to the lead author of a 2016 study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, "there is some evidence that cyberbullying puts children and adolescents at increased risk of depression."

After losing his son to suicide, Graham Wiseman, who hosts the event, abandoned his corporate career to speak about teen mental health issues. Wiseman will lead parents through discussions about anxiety, depression and suicide and how to recognize the signs, as well as share cellphone and social media strategies.

Heather Mackey, an Axis educator who works with several Tri-Valley schools, said, "Teaching teens to be resilient in how they handle stress can do a lot to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed and lead to healthier lives both emotionally and physically."

Parents can attend any of the following dates: next Thursday (Feb. 28) in Livermore at the Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Ave.; March 19 in Pleasanton at the Rosewood Commons Auditorium, 4400 Rosewood Drive; and March 20 in Dublin at the Shannon Community Center, 11600 Shannon Drive.

All sessions start at 6 p.m. Registration is requested; RSVP at eventbrite.com by searching for "Raising Emotionally Healthy Kids."

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