Get ready for a healthy back to school

Courtesy of Marin County

The third annual issue of the “Let’s Talk” booklet was distributed to 5,000 Marin County families of sixth and ninth graders this fall at local public and private schools. This resource educates parents on how to practice positive ways to communicate, listen and connect with their children as they develop into adolescence.

The booklet is developed by the Let’s Talk Collaboration which includes the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Marin County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS), Bureau of Education County Council (MCOE), RxSafe Marin Grassroots Coalition, Marin Prevention Network, and Marin Healthy Youth Partnerships (MHYP).

Let’s Talk is a comprehensive program that includes community discussions, bookmarks, posters, postcards and digital copies of the booklets which can all be found at Community discussions are designed to further engage the community on these important issues with a solid scientific background.

“Adolescence is a time of extraordinary growth filled with opportunities and challenges,” said Linda Henn, Let’s Talk Program Director and Vice Chair of the MHYP Board of Directors. “Through Let’s Talk, we’re giving parents the knowledge to support them as they nurture their child. »

Feedback from parents, youth and public health personnel clarifies how Let’s Talk is an indispensable tool that helps parents navigate the difficult topics of their teens’ formative years.

“This initiative is such a benefit for our parents and youth to learn more about the influence and risks of substance use and to have an open dialogue within families,” said Kathy Koblick, director of the public health division of Marin HHS. “Over the past two and a half years, as we dealt with the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in mental health issues and substance use. Let’s Talk is having a positive impact on our community by addressing some of these issues.

Since its first issue of 2020, “Let’s Talk” has positively educated parents on how to help teens “navigate the difficult situations” they encounter as they transition into middle school and high school, such as mental health issues, substance use, puberty and social experience. .

Surveys conducted in the fall of 2021 reveal that parents of sixth and ninth graders think “Let’s Talk About It” is informative and helpful. For example, one parent wrote, “The booklet takes an important issue and bravely presents it to middle school students and their parents. Knowing that schools and parent communities support open discussions is encouraging, useful and refreshing. »

Surveys distributed to participants after each of the six Let’s Talk community discussions also had positive responses. “All of the panelists were terrific and the teen discussion on the teen experience and parent-teen bonding was extremely informative, insightful and genuine,” one participant wrote.

Many parents surveyed also said they are interested in young people’s perspectives on Let’s Talk. In response, a group of interns from Marin High School shared their answers on the updated booklet.

“Hearing from teens makes them feel like an equal and lets them know you care about their input and what they have to say, which helps them understand the decisions parents might have to make” , says Alexis Cartwright, an intern at Redwood High School. Senior.

“When I was a freshman in high school, I felt like a lot of parents tended to bypass communication opportunities and do things like snoop on their kids’ phones or try sneaky ways to understand what’s going on with their kids,” I like Let’s Talk’s suggestion of how car trips, watching TV together, and local events provide parents with appropriate communication opportunities to navigate conversations with their teenagers. says intern Amanda Gong, a high school student from Novato.

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About Jessica J. Bass

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