So what can we do now?
From Planet Youth research we know there are things we can do right now, as parents and carers, and as a community, that can help young people live their best lives and avoid substance use…
5 things you might want to know
about teenagers, their mental health & substance use…
- BRAIN DEVELOPMENT continues into our mid-twenties according to current research. During this time, the brain is highly vulnerable and even small amounts of alcohol and drugs have a significant impact.
- MENTAL HEALTH challenges such as anxiety and depression are a leading contributor to substance use; and substance use can lead to mental illness. This is true for all ages but even more so for teenagers.
- POOR SLEEP & SCREEN TIME are associated with an increased risk of mental health issues across all age groups, but adolescents are particularly susceptible. Developing good habits has long term benefits.
- ORGANISED ACTIVITIES & FAMILY TIME are important factors when it comes to supporting good mental health for teenagers and have been proven to help them avoid substance use.
- PARENTS & CARERS still have a big impact on a teenagers’ attitudes and behaviours, even as they get older and more independent. Good communication and clear guidance is proven to help prevent substance use.
View and download the ‘5 Things You Might Want to Know’ >
5 things you can do now
to help teenagers avoid the risk of substance use and love their best lives…
- TALK openly with your child about their mental health and help them develop good life habits. Let them know you don’t want them to use drugs and alcohol because you care about them and their wellbeing.
- DELAY alcohol and drug introduction for as long as possible. This will ensure your child’s brain develops to its full potential. Every year delayed reduces the risk of harm and dependency now and later in life.
- REFUSE to supply alcohol or drugs to your child and other young people. Supervising consumption or even providing a ‘responsible’ amount is actually proven to increase substance use and risky behavior.
- KNOW the parents of your child’s friends so you all know what’s going on. Let them know how you feel about your child using drugs and alcohol. Talk about working together to keep your kids safe and well.
- DO things together with your child on weekends and evenings to strengthen your relationship. Organise activities for them and their friends. Involvement in positive organised activities reduces substance use.
View and download the ‘5 Things You Can Do Now’ >
Strengthening the protective factors.
The Planet Youth framework for action revolves around four key domains of intervention: Family, Leisure Time, Peer Group and School. The research highlights protective factors in each of these areas that can be strengthened in order to reduce the risk of substance use. The key protective factors include parents spending more leisure time with children, knowing the parents of your children’s friends, participation in organised sport and activities, community connections, active community support of young people, adult disapproval of adolescent substance use, enforcing curfews and refusing to supply substances.
Share what we know.
The absence of the critical protective factors has a direct and significant correlation with substance use. And the protective factors identified are things that can be directly influenced by parents and the community. Just knowing this can be a very powerful. Encourage others to learn about Planet Youth.
Connect with parents.
Knowing the parents of your child’s friends and having a conversation about how you can work together to strengthen the protective factors around your children can make all the difference. When parents support other parents, everyone can feel more confident and be more effective in reducing risks for young people.
Get involved in activities with your children. Get involved in their school. Get involved with other parents. Get involved with Planet Youth. All of this will make a difference. You can join the conversation on the Planet Youth Blue Mountains Facebook page, or reach out to your school to ask what they are doing to connect parents and children.
Have the talk.
Let your child know that you want to support them in their life choices but that you don’t approve of them drinking alcohol or using drugs. Let them know that even a little bit is harmful for young people (and remind them that it’s against the law). Help them get involved in more organised activities and support them as much as you can at school.
What can we do together?
The power of the Planet Youth model is within the community. What can we do together as a community to create an environment in which our young people can thrive? Some things that have been implemented by other Planet Youth communities include parent social media and chat groups, school and community meetings, increased no/low cost sport and other organised activities, parent-child activities at schools, parent patrols of late night hang outs, neighbourhood gatherings and community events for parents and young people, opening local youth clubs, and sharing effective communication tools for parents and young people.
What can we do, here and now, to help our young people live their best lives?
Planet Youth Blue Mountains is an Alcohol and Drug Foundation funded initiative that is being implemented by the Local Drug Action Team in partnership with Blue Mountains City Council and Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) and supported by local schools, community members and a number of community services including Platform Youth Services, Ted Noffs Foundation, Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, Stronger Families Alliance, Belong Blue Mountains, Springwood Neighbourhood Centre, Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre, Blue Mountains Women’s Health & Resource Centre, Catholic Care, Uniting, TAFE Blue Mountains and the NSW Department of Education.