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Parents Guide: How To help Your Teen Cope with Mental Health Issues

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Here are some of those classic warning signs that parents need to be aware of –

  • You observe that your teen is feeling noticeably more anxious or worried
  • The frequency of tantrums or periods of irritability are more than you would expect, even allowing for the hormonal challenges your teen will face in their formative years
  • Your teen seems to be suffering from regular headaches or stomach pains without any identifiable explanation
  • Your teen seems unable to sit still or quietly for any length of time
  • They have trouble sleeping and seem to have frequent nightmares
  • You notice that they suddenly lose interest in things they have always enjoyed doing
  • They withdraw from their social group and seem to avoid spending time with friends
  • School grades and performance shows signs of decline
  • Your teen talks about their fears of weight gain and seems to diet or exercise excessively
  • They seem to suffer from very low energy levels, or alternatively, they have spells of intense and inexhaustible activity
  • Signs of self-harming such as cutting or burning their skin
  • Appear to be happy to engage in destructive or risky behavior
  • Smokes, drinks alcohol or uses drugs
  • Talks about having thoughts of suicide
  • Your teen believes that their mind is being controlled or is out of control, or they are hearing voices

It can be very difficult distinguishing whether some of your teen’s actions and behaviors are just part of their adolescent adjustment process or whether they are signs and symptoms of a problem that needs discussing with a health professional.

A good guided is often that if their symptoms last weeks or months and are having a noticeable impact on their daily life, this would be an opportune moment to seek some professional guidance.

When they need immediate help

There may be a situation when your teen needs immediate help and wants to be able to talk to someone urgently.

If you have discussed a potential mental health problem with your teen or want to take a proactive approach because you are concerned that your child might be vulnerable, it makes sense to set up a number of emergency contact numbers on their cell phone.

It would be a good idea to make sure that they have a phone number for a trusted friend or relative they know they can talk to if they are finding it difficult talking to you about their problems because you are their parent.

Saving the non-emergency phone number for the local police department on their phone would also be a good idea as a backup plan.

Other useful contact numbers would be the Crisis Text Line 741741, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800 -273-TALK (8255).

No parent wants their child to become one of the numbers of teens that suffer from a mental illness, but with the right help and support, if this situation becomes a reality for your family, a solution is out there.

You can help your teen overcome a mental health problem and it starts by knowing what to look out for and getting help as soon as possible.