5 Things Parents Should Know About Their Teenager’s Mental Health
I remember when I was a teenager. I remember it vividly. Much like any other teenager, I was moody and angsty just like my friends, listening to an insane amount of Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit. I remember struggling mentally with so many things during those years, but at no point during my youth did I ever attribute it to poor mental health. It was pure ignorance to the topic, to be honest.
As I got older and began understanding the importance of good mental health, I started to realize how much poor mental health affected me when I was younger, and didn’t even realize it.
As I continue to grow as a content creator on Instagram and TikTok, my main demographic has become people who identify as female… 88% female to be exact. Many of those women are mothers to teenagers, and I hear their stories every single day. Every day many of my audience express the concerns that they have about their teens mental health.
It was at this point that I started to realize that the teenagers today are struggling in silence, much like I was when I was younger. Luckily, in today’s world, we’re speaking more openly about mental health, and we’re able to help more and more people every day.
I’ve been doing some research on mental health struggles among teenagers and I found 5 things I’d love to share with all of the parents. Let me know what you think…
1 – The Most Common Mental Health Disorders Among Teens
According to Turnbridge, these are the 5 most common mental health disorders among teenagers:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Per Turnbridge: “Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorder among adolescents today. The World Health Organization reports that four percent of 10-14 year-olds, and five percent of 15-19 year-olds experienced an anxiety disorder. Most people develop symptoms of an anxiety disorder before age 21.”
- Per Turnbridge: “Depression is the second most common mental health disorder in adolescents, affecting three percent of 15 to 19 year-olds globally. In the United States, however, approximately 13 percent of youth (ages 12 to 17) suffered a major depressive episode in the year 2020. Nine percent of youth in the U.S., or 2.2 million, were coping with severe major depression in the year 2020.”
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Per Turnbridge: “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is very common among adolescents, and is typically identified early due to this condition’s effects on learning and behavior. Almost nine percent of children ages 4 to 17 are estimated to be facing ADHD today. These children may have difficulty paying attention, become easily distracted, and exhibit hyperactive and/or impulsive behaviors.”
- Eating Disorders
- Per Turnbridge: “According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, eating disorders are “much more common” during the teenage years and into one’s early 20s. While girls and young women are more likely to struggle with an eating disorder, it’s important to recognize that boys and men often go undiagnosed.”
- Substance Use Disorders
- Per Turnbridge: “Adolescence is a heightened period for risk-taking, and often that translates to teens trying drugs and alcohol for the first time. Unfortunately, however, this is not always a phase or experimentation. Many teens and young adults become addicted to drugs or alcohol and develop substance use disorders. In the year 2020, over four percent of youth in America reported having a substance use disorder.”
Leaving these mental health disorders untreated can be very dangerous for your teenager, both short term and long term.
2 – There Are Warning Signs You Can Look for In Your Teenagers
According to Paradigm Treatment, there are 10 warning signs of teenage mental illness you can look for. Those warning signs include:
- Feeling very worried, sad, or angry.
- Extreme mood changes.
- Not caring about physical appearance.
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits.
- Change in school performance.
- Isolation or loss of interest in activities.
- Complaints of physical maladies.
- Drug or alcohol use.
- Trouble understanding reality.
- Talking about dying.
If you believe your teenager may be engaging in any of the above, taking the next step toward treatment might be a health move.
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3 – You Can Call On Your Primary Care Doctors and Pediatricians to Make A Change
It’s very clear today that our young people are in a mental health crisis. Pediatricians and primary doctors can and should be advocating for that to change.
Pediatricians have the unique and powerful chance to improve mental health among our youth. It’s actually very surprising that these practices are not already in place for teenagers.
Pediatricians are a trusted voice for parents when their child has a cough or a broken arm, and they should be well versed enough to spot potential signs of mental health struggles. Even if they are not able to provide solutions themselves, they can be equipped with the tools and the resources to point teens and their parents in the right direction.
Many pediatricians are already doing this, but not nearly enough to curve the crisis among our young people.
4 – What Causes Mental Health Struggles Among Our Young People?
There are a lot of things that come into play when it comes to the causes of teenage mental illness. Here are some potential causes highlighting by Sandstone Care:
- Genetics and family members with mental health or substance use disorders.
- Early childhood trauma and abuse.
- Biological causes, like chemical imbalances in the brain.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Prenatal exposure to viruses or harmful chemicals, like alcohol, nicotine, or drugs.
- Using drugs and alcohol.
- Serious medical issues, like cancer and chronic pain.
- Isolation and loneliness.
Prevention is key here, but it is recognized that some of these cannot be prevented. Even more of a reason to keep a close eye on your teen and get them the help needed before anything worsens.
5 – As Parents, Educate Yourself
Learning everything you can about mental illness is the first step toward providing effective assistance and guidance for your teenager. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend visiting the Parents page of the Mental Health Literacy website. That page also provides additional resources. I also recommend visiting the Parent Content Hub on the LINK website.
So, What Can You Do as a Parent?
Ultimately, you must talk with your teenager about any concerns you have and guide them toward getting professional help or external support. Keep your communication with your teenager open and pay close attention to their appearance and behavior. This is vital.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. For 24/7 crisis support call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line, or call 988 to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Much Love. Good Vibes.
LINK Digital Mentors are your teen’s ‘link’ to their happiest, healthiest self. Their mission is to provide teens with a safe, no judgment space to ensure that every teen has someone to turn to for support whenever they need. Financial Aid available.
LINK Mentorship services are provided by certified Mentors who are trained to offer digital social and emotional support. The services provided by LINK are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any mental health or medical conditions. LINK Mentorship is not a substitute for medical or mental health treatment provided by licensed professionals.