My Teen Is Struggling With Mental Health – What Do I Do?

Mental health is immensely important in your life and it's just as important as physical health. Unfortunately, problems can occur, but that's why your child has you to rely on. Teenagers are no strangers to mental health problems, and it's important for them to work with their parents and trained professionals to find a way to resolve their problems and feel happier.

Today, we'll be taking a closer look at mental health in teenagers and learning how to help your child cope with problems.

Recognizing That There's a Problem

The first step towards any solution is recognizing and accepting that there's a problem in the first place. When it comes to mental health issues, there's no rule to the signs: sometimes they're obvious and sometimes they're inconspicuous.

Teenagers will often try to drown out the pain they're feeling and won't show it to anyone. It's possible that you child won't be able to deal with everyday activities and duties (school, for example, can become too much), they might stop doing things they once loved doing (sports, music, arts and crafts, etc.), they might have trouble eating or sleeping (it's possible for them to gain or lose a lot of weight quickly), they could have outbursts of extreme behavior (aggressive, depressed, even happy). 

This can result in them acting out, as it’s not uncommon for a struggling teen to have problems in school, or even problems with the authorities.

Teens often cut themselves off from the rest of the world, avoiding social contact. These mental health problems often lead to physical pain in the form of headaches, stomachaches and back pains. 

There are many mental health problems that can cause this behavior patterns; depression and anxiety being the most common ones.

Helping Your Struggling Teen

Fortunately, your child has you to rely on, and there are many things that you can do to help your teenager. The first step should always be establishing a dialogue – it’s important for your teenager to feel support and to understand that they aren’t alone and that you care. There’s a difference between caring and actively showing them that you care, letting them know that they can openly talk to you – and it’s important for them to understand that.

If you have any personal experiences that you can relate to this, make sure to tell them that, as it can really help them if they realize that adults have to go through these things, as well. It’s important for your child to know that there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about and that the still-existing social stigma is wrong.

Even though opening up can be scary because it makes us vulnerable, make sure that your teenager knows that it’s okay to open up to you. Your perspective could also make things clearer – adults understand things and see things in a different way, so opening up to an adult can be very beneficial for your child. 

Try not to force anything on your child – it takes time, confidence and trust for anyone to open up, and if your teenager isn’t willing to do it immediately, that’s okay. What’s important is for them to know that you’ll be there to listen to them whenever they decide to open up!

If the problems are prevailing and it seems like they’re too much to handle, ask your teenager if they’d be willing to talk to their primary physician or another health professional. It’s important for you, the parent, to understand that mental health is not something that should be taken lightly and it might be necessary for you to seek help with medical professionals or even a residential treatment center for teens.

Professionals already have a lot of hands-on experience with mental health, and they’re legally obliged to keep everything your child says to them a secret – so neither you nor your child should be worried about opening up.

There are many options when it comes to professional support: doctors, child psychologists, social workers, school counsellors, etc. Often times it’s only necessary for you and these professionals to be a circle of support for your child, as they’re the only ones who can work out these problems.

The most important thing is to be a supportive parent – it’s crucial for your child to be able to lean on you until they learn to stand on their own, in a metaphorical sense. Be compassionate and be proactive, try to come up with activities that are going to help your child see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

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