Every year, the World Teen Mental Health Day is observed on the 2nd of March, in order to bring awareness to the range of mental health issues that teens today are facing everywhere. As teenagers, they have a long transition going from being a child to a young adult, and during this time they are not sufficiently equipped with mechanisms to handle the pressures of society, their peers, parental expectations, bullying at school, and many others, including physical, mental, sexual and psychological abuse that some teens may be recipients of. The result of this is the dramatically high levels of anxiety, depression and suicides that we see in teens.
A harmful side effect to mental health issues is that your teen may turn to substances in order to cope with the pressures and challenges at their school and in their social life. Recognizing and addressing them as early as possible is a preventative measure that cannot be overestimated.
How To Support Your Teen
Learn more about teen mental health challenges
Educating yourself about mental health challenges in teens is the first step to becoming aware of the enormity of the problem they are facing. Educating yourself about substance abuse and mental health issues can help you understand what to look for and what you observe in your teen. Learn more about symptoms, causes, and treatment options available.
Observe your teen’s behavioral changes
Noticing your child’s behavioral changes is probably your first clue towards recognizing that there may be something more going on with them. If you notice sudden changes in their attitude, social interactions, sleeping and eating habits, they may be going through some challenges that they are not sharing with you. Also observe your teen for signs of substance use.
Talk to your teen about mental health
Talking to your child everyday to check in about their day and life in general is a great routine to start when they are young. However, the only way this can be successful is if you are able to listen without judgment. Fear of judgment often stifles what they share. If you notice that they may indeed be struggling with something deeper, gently prompt them by asking questions, and start talking about mental health, so that they recognize that it is normal and that they can confide in you.
Seek an experienced therapist
Simply talking to your teen about what they are going through is a great first step, however, finding a knowledgeable but caring therapist who can help them navigate through their experiences and ways to cope with their stress, anxiety or depression is imperative for their long term health and success.
Some Resources for Teen Mental Health
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline : Visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line: Visit www.crisistextline.org/ or Text “START” to 741-741
- Teens Against Bullying: http://www.pacerteensagainstbullying.org/
- National Eating Disorder Association: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ or call 1-800-931-2237
- Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network: http://www.glsen.org/
Don’t wait to reach out for help as early as you can. It may be the one thing that can save a life.
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