A New Norm

Carleen Wild
Posted 9/5/23

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A New Norm


“I think it’s one of the most underdiagnosed medical problems out there,” said Tad Jacobs.
The rural Flandreau resident and former Chief Medical Officer for Avera Health was talking this past week about the alarming and rising rates of depression and anxiety, especially amongst our youth.
The conversation followed yet another recent suicide in the area — Jacobs, along with so many others, believes something needs to be done.
As a result, children’s book author Tom Roberts is now scheduled to speak in Flandreau on October 4th at an event designed for the entire family. Roberts, in his book The New Norm, tells the story of a boy named Norm, whose “norm” was living with a cloud over his head, and nothing he tried could make it go away. Norm goes through a time of crisis and through that journey comes to realize there is hope.

The book was published in partnership with Avera Health and Avera Behavioral Health, where Roberts works in the outpatient adolescent group therapy program. He routinely travels and speaks to children and families about the book and helps them explore the resources available to them should they also be dealing with some dark clouds.
“We’ve had too many suicides in Flandreau,” said Jacobs.
“We know it’s a national problem. Part of what this is about is helping families, young people, but also parents, understand depression in children and how you can recognize those signs and get help early. The goal would be to have children involved in that conversation so if they’re feeling blue and they have that cloud following over their head all the time that they aren’t afraid to bring that up with their parents.”
Earlier this year, a new CDC report raised an urgency to invest in schools as a vital lifeline to help struggling youth. The outreach followed studies showing teen girls are experiencing record high levels of violence, sadness, and suicide risk — nearly 3 in 5 (57%) U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021— double that of boys, representing a nearly 60% increase and the highest level reported over the past decade. Nearly 1 in 3 (30%) seriously considered attempting suicide—up nearly 60% from a decade ago.
LGBQ+ teens also continue to face extremely high levels of violence and mental health challenges, according to the CDC.
Included in the book are resources and information on mental illness, including contact information for Avera Behavioral Health (800-691-4336) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).
More information about A NEW NORM can be found at www.avera.org/new-norm.