How to Support Your Teen with Mental Health Problems
According to official statistics, one in eight people under the age of 19 has a mental health disorder. There’s both a rise in metal ill health and, coupled with an increased awareness of different conditions, more and more teenagers are getting a diagnosis.
Increased pressure, concerns about politics and the environment as well as the influence of social media on their lives can all contribute to a teenager’s condition. But how can you help? Below, you’ll find two of the most common diagnoses and some ways you can offer your support. Of course, this should be coupled with professional help such as counselling, but guidance on what you can do on an everyday basis is one of the first steps on the road to managing mental ill health.
This is one of the most common diagnoses and around a quarter of people will suffer with depression in their lives. If your teen is suffering with the constant low moods, feelings of helplessness or despair, changed appetite and sleeping, all of which are common for sufferers of depression, here are some things you can do to help.
- Be a good listener. Although it can be tempting to offer advice, solutions and personal experience, try and recognise that this probably isn’t what they are looking for. Instead, an opportunity to express how they’re feeling will show your support more than trying to fix everything.
- Tell them they’ve done well and thank them. If they’ve done the dishes, let them know you appreciate it and how much of a help they’re being. If they get a good grade, praise them. A common symptom of depression is low self-worth, so demonstrate to your teen that you value them.
- Make the home a stress-free and relaxing environment to spend time in. This is important because, if they are coming home to a house filled with conflict, noise or other disruption, it will be difficult for them to unwind.
Your teen might be suffering from anxiety. This can manifest in a few different ways, for example refusing to speak aloud in a classroom setting, panic attacks, or them making excuses to get out of things.
- Stay calm and accept what’s going on. It’s important not to try and logically argue your teen out of this. It won’t work – even if they are aware that their anxiety is about something irrational, being told this will only undermine their feelings and could cause them to become secretive.
- Remember, being unable to control their worries is part of the problem, and they aren’t choosing how they feel so be kind and try to stay calm and non-judgemental.
- If they are having a panic attack, try taking them to a quiet spot if you’re out in public, away from other people. Being stared at will only make them feel worse about something which is outside their control.
With these illnesses, as any others, it’s important to seek professional help when necessary. If your teen is suffering with addiction, look for rehab in London to support them, or if their mental health problems are becoming difficult, talk to your GP with them. Let them know you’re in it together and your teen will continue to rely on your support.