Imagine you're serving on a U.S. ship in the Mediterranean when you come upon a group of people drowning.

Their boat is disintegrating and dozens of people are struggling to stay afloat. Another dozen have already perished; their bodies float in the water around the survivors. What do you do?

Both human kindness and international law dictate that you help them, of course. And according to The Daily Beast, that's just what sailors on the USNS Trenton did when they came across a group of migrants whose boat had failed off the coast of Libya. The Navy warship brought the 40 survivors aboard and offered them food, water, and medical care.


The problem was that they didn't know what to do with them next.

A child being rescued in the Mediterranean in 2016. Thousands of people drown each year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach safer shores. Photo via Aris Messinis/Getty Images.

They couldn't return them to Libya because migrants were fleeing violence there, and the law required they be dropped at a "safe harbor." Transferring them to an nongovernmental organization's migrant rescue ship bound for Italy would make sense, but Italy's new interior minister was in the midst of enacting strong anti-immigrant policies, including turning away migrant rescue ships at entry ports. Other nations have been tightening their borders as well, so this U.S. warship has found itself in the middle of a European standoff over migration with nowhere to take a group of vulnerable people.

The global migration crisis has led to complex questions with no simple answers.

More than 1.8 million migrants have arrived in Europe since 2014, most of them fleeing violence and conflict in North Africa and the Middle East. Globally, there are 65 million displaced people who have been forced to leave their homes to find safety.

We are facing a global refugee crisis of massive proportions with no simple solutions.

Photo via AFP Contributor/Getty Images.

It should be a given that when a human being is suffering or in danger, other human beings step up and help out.

But on a global level, who should be stepping up and helping refugees and to what extent? How do you share the load when some nations flatly refuse? At what point do wealthy nations say, "We'd love to help, but we're all tapped out?" And at what point do you look into the face of an innocent child trapped in the most tragic circumstances and tell them, "Sorry, find help someplace else"?

These are questions that governments and individual citizens find themselves grappling with. In the meantime, thousands of people are dying each year trying to get to safety.

The refugee crisis is horrible — but not hopeless. We can use our voices and our wallets to save lives.

Governments have a host of issues to consider when making hard decisions about where to place resources and how to mold policy. But ultimately, they work for the citizenry. One thing we can do to help the most vulnerable is to let our government know we want our country to do more.

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has cut the number of refugees we take by more than half, from Obama's 2017 goal of 110,000 to a 2018 limit of 45,000. According to the International Rescue Committee, we are actually slated to bring in less than half that number of refugees by the end of 2018.

A Syrian family fled their homeland due to a brutal civil war. Photo via Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Just so we're clear, George W. Bush maintained an annual refugee ceiling of 70,000, even after the worst terrorist attack in history occurred on our soil. If we hit President Donald Trump's 45,000 refugee limit, that's still just one refugee per 10,000 Americans. And as Trump loves to tout, our economy is booming with unemployment at historic lows. Why aren't we doing more?

It's time to get on the horn to our government and ask that question.

Supporting organizations that help refugees is the most efficient way to provide immediate aid.

A number of highly rated organizations offer aid to refugees in various ways. Here are some you can donate to or volunteer with:

International Rescue Committee. The IRC aids refugees and people whose lives are impacted by conflict and disaster.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The UNHCR protects and support refugees at the request of a government or the U.N. itself.

Doctors Without Borders. An international humanitarian organization, it provides medical aid where needs are the greatest.

Refugees International. An independent organization (which means it receives no funding from governments or the U.N.), Refugees International advocates for protection and assistance for displaced people and promotes solutions to the refugee crisis.

Mercy Corps. A global nongovernmental humanitarian aid organization, Mercy Corps helps people recover from crises due to economic, environmental, social, and political instability.

Humanity needs help, and those of us in developed, stable nations are in the best position to provide it. We know there are complex problems that need solving to turn the tide, but until we figure that out, let's keep pulling people from the water and doing what we can to keep them safe.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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