Teens and Mental Health – Five Tips for Parents
All teens are moody at one point or another. Part of puberty is the changes that occur to the adolescent brain, and the production of hormones that add to the rapid mood swings. Parents often notice signs of mental health issues in their teens before anyone else, including friends and school officials. Teens are more likely to feel most comfortable at home and will let their guard down around family members when they feel they are in a safe environment.
May is Mental Health Month, and our experts are offering parents five tips to help keep their children healthy and safe.
1. Teens often try to “play down” their issues for fear of getting unwanted attention or embarrassing themselves. Offer your teen the support that you will not judge them no matter what they may think or feel and that you only want to help them.
2. Some early warning signs of teen mental health issues include:
• Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in others.
• An unusual drop in functioning, especially at school or work.
• Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought.
• Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity and apathy.
• Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling.
• Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or deterioration in personal hygiene.
• Showing an interest or indulging in the use of alcohol or drugs.
3. The negative effects go far beyond a melancholy mood. Many rebellious and unhealthy behaviors or attitudes in teenagers are actually indications of depression.
4. If you suspect your teen is experiencing emotional problems, be open with your teen. Say that you are concerned about the teen’s emotional and mental condition and attitude, and invite them to talk openly about their apparent troubles, do not just ignore the problem and hope it will go away.
5. Most importantly, if you notice a marked change in your teen’s behavior that isn’t temporary (bad break up, lost a game, etc.) talk with your family pediatrician, seek out a specialist or explore treatment options.
For more information, expert guidance and support from parents and families who understand the challenges and emotions a teen is facing while struggling with an alcohol or drug problem, visit Time To Get Help.