Can we take a moment to appreciate the majestic sea turtle?

Because on Sept. 16, 2015, marine police in Indonesia rescued 45 turtles from illegal poachers.

Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images.


While the sea turtle population faces threats from climate change and habitat loss, the World Wildlife Fund also says the number of turtles lost to illegal poaching and overharvesting numbers in the "tens of thousands" each year, with almost 5,000 a year being picked up as "bycatch" just by Indonesian longline vessels

Sadness. Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images.

These lucky 45 turtles were spared a grisly fate at the hands of illegal poachers and set free the next day by the marine police, with the help of some tourists.

But ... let's just take a moment to learn about these amazing creatures.

Don't worry, lil' buddy, you'll be home soon. Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images.

Of the seven species of sea turtle in our oceans, the World Wildlife Fund ranks three (leatherback, hawksbill, and Kemp's ridley turtles) as critically endangered, two (loggerhead and green turtles) as endangered, one (olive ridley turtles) as vulnerable, and the last one (flatback turtles) as "insufficient data" (but according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, it used to be listed as vulernable sooooo ... there's that).

The turtles set free in these photos appear to be mostly green sea turtles.

Did you know that a sea turtle born the same day as you is probably still alive — aaaaand might just outlive you, too?

This is the face of an animal that just wants to go home and take the turtle equivalent of a long nap. Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images.

And sea turtles don't have anything on tortoises, which have been documented living long past the century mark. But sea turtles have been known to live anywhere from 50 to 150 years, depending on their environment and species.

"I'm getting too old for this sh*t." Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images.

Or that green sea turtles are basically the lawnmowers of the ocean?

According to this Oceana report (PDF), the green turtle's grazing habits prevent seagrass beds from getting in the way of currents and help keep the oceanic food chain productive and healthy. So if you like eating lobster, you better care about people not eating the green sea turtle.

"Wheee! High-five, bro, I'm goin' home!" — this turtle. Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images.

How about that turtles travel hundreds of thousands of miles across the ocean but come back to the beach to nest?

And not just any old random beach, either. They've been known to come back to the same beach where they were born to make their nests. I can barely even remember where I left my keys, and I always leave my keys in the same place.

Some species, like the Eastern Pacific green turtle, have been known to come up on land just to rest in the sun for a bit.

According to the Handbook for Sea Turtle Volunteers in North Carolina (PDF), gently pouring water over an injured or distressed turtle is a standard first aid procedure to keep the animal comfortable. Because sea turtles in the wild occasionally come up to the beach to rest, however, most sea turtle wildlife viewing guides (PDF) recommend that if you ever encounter a turtle on the beach, you should never try to push them back into the water or pour water on them. Instead, allow them a clear path to find their way back to the water when they're ready. Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images.

Bottom line: Turtles deserve our respect.

These guys are just trying to help, but there's no way to make this rescue look dignified.

So let's just leave the turtles in the ocean where they belong, OK

"C'MON, I thought you were my friends." Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images.

You're free now, turtle friends.

Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images.

Connections Academy

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

True

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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Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

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