One of the best ways to deal with mental health issues is to talk about them. Starting a conversation can be hard, but being able to talk about your feelings can help you to understand and work through them. Additionally, once you’ve shared your feelings with someone else, you potentially have someone you can rely on for social support. Research suggests that this social support is important: a recent study found that the Youth-Nominated Support Team Intervention for Suicidal Adolescents – Version II (YST) might be associated with reduced mortality.
YST is a psychoeducational, social support intervention specifically for adolescents with suicidal ideation or attempts after psychiatric hospitalization. Adolescents are asked to nominate a couple of adults in their lives who they consider to be caring and will support them. A YST specialist then meets with the nominated adults to teach them about the adolescent’s psychopathology, treatment plans, and ways they can support the adolescent. The caring adult has their regular contact with the adolescent, with the YST specialist’s support, over the course of the next 3 months. The goal of the intervention is to provide the adolescent with social support during their recovery process.
In a study conducted on 448 adolescents between the ages of 13-17, participants were divided into two groups: those who received treatment as usual (TAU) and those who received TAU + YST. They found that adolescents in the YST group were more likely to participate in some type of outpatient alcohol or drug treatment, attended more outpatient psychotherapy groups sessions, and medication follow-up sessions. In the 10 years after the study was conducted, one adolescent in the YST group and three in the TAU group committed suicide. This suggests that YST might be associated with positive youth trajectories and reduced mortality. It is important to note that while there is an association between YST and positive youth trajectories and reduced mortality, more research is needed to be able to make causal claims.
While this study still needs more follow-up, research indicating that interventions are having a positive effect on suicidal adolescents is extremely encouraging. Since 2000, suicide rates among have increased by 28%, which also includes higher rates in adolescents. Knowing that research is getting a couple steps closer to finding an intervention that helps suicidal adolescents go through their daily lives after hospitalization creates hope for future.
What do you think about YST? Have you ever tried something similar? Do you confide in a caring adult in your life?