NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Youth today have a different set of challenges when it comes to addressing mental health. Mental health experts say, there is a stigma when prescribing minors medication for disorders like depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

“Under no other medical condition do we have that kind of stigma where people are embarrassed to take a medication,” said the Director of Mental Health for the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, Dr. Wayne Martinsen. “So, even if somebody has a lifestyle that is contributed to heart disease or to their cancer, there isn’t an embarrassment about that. But there is about mental health.”

Some of our state’s doctors and psychiatrists use medication as the last resort and treat patients with lifestyle changes first.

Dr. Martinsen says some of those lifestyle adjustments include dietary changes, consuming a whole-food diet, and not eating as many processed foods. Also, getting enough sleep. 6-12-year-olds need 9-12 hours, and teens need 8-10 hours of sleep. He says It’s also important to limit screen time and connect with peers personally. There is even research on meditating once a day improving anxiety in minors.

“Therapy is one option for mental health, lifestyle changes are the second, medication would be the third. So if people would just do those things. You know, connect more, be more mindful, eat healthier not so much processed food, we really would see a lot of people doing better. And a number of people who wouldn’t have depression and anxiety for which they need medication.”

North Dakota has many mental health resources for those that need them.

If you are struggling and need help, call the suicide hotline at 988.