Maintaining good mental health is important at any age, but it can become more of a struggle for teens. As they begin to go through puberty, face social struggles, and feel the pressure of increased obligations, their mental health can begin to suffer. In fact, some type of mental illness affects a large number of teenagers.
Studies have found that one in eight teens and young adults are affected by depression every year. Between 2005 and 2014, the number of teenagers experiencing a major depressive episode increased by almost a third. While mental illness seems to be a growing concern among young people, there are steps you can take to help your own teen children stay mentally healthy.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Mental Illness
In order to help your teenager stay mentally healthy, it will be necessary for you to know the warning signs of mental disorders. Just as is the case with physical disorders, mental health can be improved more easily, if problems are identified early. This means paying special attention to any behavioral changes your child may exhibit. While some changes may merely be the result of maturing and outgrowing certain things, destructive behavioral changes are often the sign of a deeper problem.
Those changes are often accompanied by a lack of ambition or motivation. Your child may seem to feel hopeless and you may also see a significant drop in school performance. These changes are often accompanied by sleep problems, a change in appetite, and less interest in social activities. Your child may go to greater lengths to avoid interactions with family and friends, as well. They may make up physical ailments, such as a headache or stomach ache, to get out of social obligations.
Helping Your Teenager Restore Their Mental Health
When you begin to see your teen child exhibit these signs, you should look for ways to help them restore and strengthen their mental health. You can begin by showing a greater interest in your child and his or her activities. For instance, expressing more love for your child and showing affection can help your child feel more like a valued member of the family. You should also take more interest in your teen’s achievements in school or in extracurricular activities.
At this point, you should also introduce your child to new ways to manage stress. This can involve learning relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga, or it can involve taking up a new hobby. Encouraging your child to take up a sport or some other activity that they enjoy will give them an opportunity to relax and reduce the anxiety that may be affecting their behavior. Even if your teen likes to do something simple, like hiking or going for a swim, encourage them to make time to do those things.
Another problem that causes depression and anxiety in teenagers is that they take on too much responsibility. When they’re adding sports competitions and part-time jobs to the school obligations, they can become overwhelmed. Just as it’s mentally unhealthy for adults to overwork themselves, teenagers should be advised against taking on too many obligations. You should avoid adding pressure by raising your expectations for your teen child.
Instead, urge your child to talk to you about his or her feelings. By encouraging them to open up to you, you’ll get a better idea of what issues may be troubling your teenager. This can give you additional ideas about how best to help your teen cope with the pressures of adolescence. If you can help them learn better coping skills now, they will develop those tools early and carry them into adulthood.
What to Do When Mental Illness Seems Too Big to Handle
In spite of your best efforts, you may find it challenging to connect with your child. Even after putting yourself out there and doing all you can to show your teenager that you’re willing to listen, they may still struggle silently. In those circumstances, finding additional help may be the only way to help your teenager regain a good state of mental health.
Centered Health offers a residential treatment option that can help your child by offering the therapies necessary to overcome a variety of mental disorders. In addition to receiving the necessary therapy, a residential program provides education and peer support to help each individual learn healthier coping skills. By speaking with a Centered Health professional, you may learn about services that will be more effective in restoring your child’s mental health.