The teenage years can be difficult. From changes in hormones and peer pressures to normal angst that comes with this stage of life, it can be difficult to know when a teenager is experiencing serious mental health concerns or going through a normal phase. The good news is that there are ways to know if your teen is experiencing a serious mental health concern, and there are people who can help out if your teen is troubled. To learn more about how to know if your teen is going through a serious mental health crisis, read on.
Extreme Changes in Behavior and Academic Performance
If your child has a sharp behavioral change, it’s time to pay attention. While kids in puberty often have attitude changes and can struggle with behavioral issues here and there, there’s a difference between behaviors like manias and downs that come with bipolar disorder than a typical teenager’s bad mood.
If you see major behavioral changes in your teenager or notice that they’ve slipped in school, start by having an honest conversation with them about what they might be going through. Other signs of serious mental health issues for troubled teens include suicidal ideation, self harm behaviors, like cutting or substance abuse, violence and fighting, bullying, and attempts at suicide.
For teenagers with major behavioral challenges, emotional disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse issues, there are group home programs for trouble teens that might help. Start with a Google search for ‘residential treatment center for teenagers‘ to learn more about how group therapy and a residential intervention could turn things around.
Lack of Interest in Hobbies and Peers
A lack of interest in peers and things your teenager used to enjoy is another sign that something’s wrong. If your teen is turning down social events that they would have jumped to attend in the past, quitting sports teams, or throwing away tools for hobbies they once loved, it might be time to ask questions.
While it’s not always easy to understand where a teenager is coming from, there are ways to put yourself in their shoes. Maybe you’re suffering from menopause symptoms and have gone so far to take a premature menopause quiz for a self diagnosis. Perhaps you’ve wondered if your hot flashes and dizziness were even normal. The same way you might be afraid to ask your doctor about hormone replacement therapy, a teenager with a mood disorder or behavior problems could be afraid to reach out, too.
The best way to help is to start by listening. In allowing your teen to open up without fear of punishment, you’ll have a better idea of possible mental health conditions and how to get them professional help.
Substance Abuse Issues
As a parent, you’ve likely done all you can to give your teenager a great quality of life. From teaching your teen to ride a bike to being there to help them pick out the most comfortable bralette you could find, you’ve already given them many life skills. Even the best of parents can be shocked to discover their teenager has a substance abuse issue. What most parents don’t understand is that substance abuse issues and addiction are never the root of the problem. Instead, if your teen is using drugs, it could point to an even more serious mental health problem.
Feelings of despair, hopelessness, or issues with self-esteem can cause the smartest of kids to make bad decisions with drugs. Whether it’s peer pressure, wanting to be accepted, or simply because your teen is curious, what starts as experimentation can quickly turn into a serious addiction. For this, there are teen rehab centers that will work with your child both on the individual level and in group therapy sessions to help get to the root of the addiction.
Emotional support and family involvement could make a huge different in mental health challenges faced by teens. For this reason, it’s important to look for help the moment you sense that something’s really wrong. With enough support early on, most teenagers will come back around sooner than you might suspect. A combination of medication, therapies, group homes, and tools to help your teen learn better coping can make a huge difference, no matter how serious their mental health issue is.
Especially during a global pandemic where many teenagers aren’t able to access the same peer and academic supports as they’re accustomed to, it’s no surprise that more teenagers than ever are experiencing challenges when it comes to their mental health. If you suspect your child is in need of professional mental health supports, call their pediatrician or regular health care provider. If they already have a therapist, ask for suggestions on additional supports and ways to help out. Your teenager is depending on you to be their best advocate.