Helping Teens with Anxiety, Depression, and Other Mental Health Struggles

Helping Teens with Anxiety, Depression, and Other Mental Health Struggles

Its important to ensure that your teenager feels supported and not alone through mental health related difficulties.

Teenage mental health disorder statistics can be surprising and unsettling. For example, 20 percent of teenagers have a diagnosed mental health disorder, according to Robin Seymour, LCSW, clinical director of Newport Academy, a series of evidence-based healing centers for adolescents struggling with mental health issues. She says teens often exhibit internal mental health difficulties, like depression and anxiety, by acting out and partaking in risky behaviors. So, to help your teen through mental health struggles and to limit your teen's risky behaviors, Seymour shares five effective ways to navigate your child's mental health crisis.

Communicate with your teen regularly.

Many teens say their No. 1 issue with their parents is a lack of communication, according to Seymour. Stay present in your child’s life, ask questions without being interrogative, and, most importantly, listen to what she has to say.  When approaching these conversations, recognize your child may be struggling and acknowledge that her outlandish behaviors may be a result of a deeper struggle. Approach the situation with love and understanding and ask yourself, ‘why is my child doing this?’

Show your teen he is not alone.

Teens in general struggle a lot because they often feel as though they are the only one dealing with certain things, whether it’s anxiety or depression—or just the feeling of receiving a bad grade on an exam. And with the stigma of mental health disorders, your child may feel very alone in his fight. Reassure your teen that he is not alone by discussing struggles you may have had as a teenager.

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Don’t overreact to the situation.

Blowing small problems out of proportion will only make the situation worse. In order to help your teen through what may or may not be a mental health crisis, be patient and find your own middle ground. If you overreact, your teen will be less likely to come to you for help in any situation.

Gain insight from other adults in your child’s life.

While you know your child better than anyone else, it can always help to get the perspective of other adults that spend a lot of time with her. If you have a concern, ask her teachers, coaches, and any other adults she may be spending a good chunk of time with if they have noticed an abnormality in your daughter’s life.

Access professional mental health help. 

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents. Mental health is a delicate and serious topic that needs to be treated with empathy and often professional help. Seymour suggests looking into mental health treatment options that use evidence-based practices and those that are specific to helping adolescents.