4 tips to support your teen’s mental health
The teenage years are not easy, no matter what. Teenagers are dealing with hormones, body changes, a demanding social scene, grades, and the impending pressure of leaving the nest. In our current world, teens are also facing one more curveball which can make adolescence even harder to deal with — mental illness. The stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the already soaring rates of mental health challenges — particularly anxiety and depression — among adolescents.1 This article can help you understand the prevalence of teenage mental illnesses and what you can do to support the teens in your life.
One in five teens today has a mental illness
You may be surprised to learn that 20 percent of America’s youth between the ages of 9 and 17 have a diagnosable mental health disorder that causes some impairment, while 10 percent are significantly impaired by a disorder.2 What kind of mental illnesses should you be aware of in teenagers? The most common disorders are related to attention, anxiety, and mood. For example, depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit-hyperactive-disorder (ADHD) often first emerge during adolescence.3 So what should you do if you’re worried about a teen in your life who is struggling?
4 ways to help guide the way to mental health
It can be challenging to know what is normal teen behavior and what is not, especially in these unprecedented times. If you have any concerns, here are four steps you can take.
1. Consult a mental health professional
In the case of mental health, it’s better to be safe than sorry. More than half of teens who have psychiatric disorders don’t receive any treatment, leaving them struggling alone.4 So if your teen is showing some changes in behavior that have raised red flags in your mind, talk with a professional. It doesn’t have to be a “big deal” in the house, but just a preventative action to ensure all is well. If a disorder is identified, then it can be taken from there.
2. Provide a healthy home environment
You can also take other steps to help support your teen. Make sure that your home is a warm and positive environment for them. Establish responsibilities, boundaries, a reliable framework, and trust. Support them in their endeavors, encourage autonomy, and help them develop healthy habits that will serve them in life.
3. Instill life skills
A great way to help a teen establish autonomy and confidence is by teaching them life skills that are not taught at school. Help them learn how to earn, save, and manage money, cook, repair things around the house, take care of their car, and manage their time. These skills will help them feel confident about stepping out on their own as a young adult, which can help to ease anxieties they don’t even know they have.
4. Build a support network
Lastly, it can be helpful for teens to participate in prevention/support programs that help to build emotional well-being while discouraging substance abuse. Also, encourage a positive network of peers.
It’s important for teens to learn constructive mental health habits, including coping, resilience, good judgment, and money management while living in a supportive environment where they feel safe. Additionally, learning what to look for and keeping a close relationship with the adolescents in your life will help you spot early warning signs so you can provide the support they need right away.
Below you’ll find a list of additional resources that can help you learn more about mental health in adolescents and how to best help those who may be at risk.
Brought to you by The Guardian Network © 2020, 2022. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, New York, NY
2022-140788 Exp. 7/2024