It’s challenging being a teenager. You likely remember the physical, mental, emotional, and social struggles from when you were blossoming from childhood to adulthood. Teens today have similar challenges, with added pressures stemming from social media and other online influences.
That’s why supporting your teen’s mental health is vital. Yes, the waters of parenting teenagers can be rather tumultuous. But throwing in the towel on staying in tune with their mental health isn’t an option. It’s your responsibility as a parent or caregiver to do what you can to recognize when things may be going sideways in their mental health.
This, too, isn’t an easy task. Teens don’t always want to reveal to their parents or loved ones what’s troubling them. Noticing changes in your child, adolescent, or teen’s behavior can help you keep any mental health concerns from getting worse. Being proactive in supporting teens’ mental health is crucial.
10 Teenage Mental Health Support Tips
1. Educate yourself
You can’t recognize symptoms of a mood disorder or other mental health concerns if you don’t know what to look for. You know your child best, so if your intuition tells you something is off, do not ignore it and label it as “typical teen behavior.”
Teens go through mood swings thanks to the constant hormonal changes. But recognizing the signs of mental health issues is something else entirely. Research the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues in teens. There may be some surprising symptoms you don’t even know about!
2. Understand the risks of suicide
Of course, thinking about your child being at risk for suicide is not something you want to do. But it’s important to recognize the warning signs and create a positive, caring, and supportive environment where they can share with you if they do have suicidal thoughts.
Open communication with trusted adults who offer a non-judgmental listening ear is crucial. Even if they don’t share exactly what’s on their mind, teens need to feel comfortable sharing with you that they’d like to talk to a professional about distressing thoughts and emotions.
3. Be an active listener
One of the most important things you can do when supporting teens’ mental health is to listen. Don’t just listen passively. Listen actively.
That means when you talk to your child and they speak, don’t simply hear their words. You have to be fully present. Put down your phone and maintain eye contact. If you’re in the car, pull off the road somewhere safe where you can give them your full, undivided attention.
Active listening also means asking them open-ended questions. Many teens are tight-lipped about things so asking “yes” or “no” questions isn’t going to get you far. Ask things like, “What do you think about that?” and “What do you think you should do next?”
4. Avoid being a “problem-solver”
If your teen opens up to you, you may be tempted to be the problem-solver. As a parent or caregiver, you may feel like healthy teenage mental health support means you need to solve all their problems for them.
But it’s important for teens to have a voice and try to learn how to cope with challenging emotions and experiences in healthy ways. It fosters independence, which is something most teens want.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you don’t offer support, guidance, and encouragement. When supporting teens, these things are extremely important. Again, ask open-ended questions and let them know that you are there for them to support and guide them through their struggles.
5. Spend time with them
You may think your teen wants nothing to do with spending quality time with you. And maybe it’s not the first thing on their list of exciting activities, but it’s vital you make the time to spend time with them. Even if it’s for a short walk or if you go in their room and chat for ten minutes.
Not only does spending time with your teen give you a better sense of their emotional situation, but it also fosters a sense of trust and love between the two of you. And if your teen trusts you, then they are more likely to open up to you.
6. Share with them
You already know that relationships are a two-way street. Sure, you’re older than your teen, but you’re also human and experience challenging emotions and situations, too. When providing positive teen mental health support, try to lead by example.
Share with your child when you are feeling sad, stressed, or anxious. You don’t have to hide emotions from them. Within reason, of course, establish open communication about challenging things going on in your world and how it affects you.
Talking openly about mental health helps break down the negative stigma associated with it. This, in turn, fortifies a strong and open environment where sharing about emotional struggles is always encouraged.
7. Help them develop healthy coping mechanisms
Teens may not know how to manage their challenging mental health symptoms or emotions in healthy ways. This could lead to self-harm and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Let your child know that you are there if they need someone to talk to. And if they don’t want to talk to you, let them know you’ll help them find someone they will talk to.
Some other coping mechanisms include drawing, playing music, going for a walk, or journaling. Consider your child’s likes and dislikes and see if they can think of healthy ways to relieve challenging emotions in healthy ways.
8. Provide positive feedback
Teenagers are vulnerable to criticism, unintended or not. If they are dealing with difficult emotions or challenging mental health concerns, make sure you let them know you see how strong they are and that you’re proud of even the smallest achievement. They thrive on praise. (As we all do!)
9. Encourage a healthy lifestyle
Supporting teens in their mental health means supporting them in their physical health, too. Ensure your teen is eating a healthy diet and getting adequate sleep. This will help prevent the magnification of difficult mental health symptoms.
Cranky, exhausted teens aren’t going to want to share anything with you. But when they feel good physically, it’ll give them a better chance to feel better mentally and be more open to sharing their challenging feelings.
10. Support them in getting therapy
Teens have a lot on their plates. And, even if they don’t ask to talk to a professional, it’s important to point them in that direction if you notice symptoms of a mental health concern. Let them know that what they say to their therapist is confidential and that talking to a trained professional can help them work through their struggles.
Do your research and choose a therapist for teenagers in San Diego or wherever you live who specializes in helping children, adolescents, and teens. Our team of clinicians at BOLD Health includes child and teen psychiatrists and therapists who are compassionate, understanding, and ready to help.
Look No Further Than BOLD Health For a Quality Therapist for Teenagers in San Diego
Your child or teen has a specific set of needs that an experienced teen and child psychiatrist can address. At BOLD Health, we provide high-quality therapy for teenagers using a holistic approach. That means we’ll take the time to genuinely get to know and understand your child so they can curate the ideal treatment plan.
At BOLD Health, your teen’s treatment plan could include the following:
- individual therapy
- group therapy
- family therapy
- medication management
- ketamine treatment
- intensive outpatient program (IOP in San Diego)
Teenage mental health support from you and their trusted teen and child psychiatrist in San Diego can help them overcome the challenging emotional obstacles and potential mood disorders keeping them from living an enjoyable, fulfilling life. Partnering with BOLD Health for therapy for teenagers in San Diego is one of the best things you can do when supporting your teen’s mental health.