Mental health issues, if left unaddressed, very adversely affect one’s overall health, well-being, and quality of life. Moreover, mental health crises do not discriminate, affecting even adolescents and children who had a positive upbringing. Statistics from the national Vital Statistic noted an increase in the suicide rates of adolescents in the United States, with 6.8 suicides per 100,000 individuals aged 10-24 in the year 2007, which increased to 10.7 suicides per 100,000 individuals by 2018.
Mental health issues in teens can be caused by various factors. From hormonal imbalances and Seasonal Affective Disorder, to bullying or stressful environments, many things can cause mental health problems. The symptoms of mental health struggles can manifest as fatigue, changes in appetite, mood swings, poor grades, hair loss, feelings of depression and anxiety, body aches and pains, suicidal thoughts, lack of focus, and more.
As the adult, you need to watch for signs such as the above, and you need to take action if you notice these signs in an adolescent. You should book doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions.
It’s important to emphasize that you do not have to wait for a clinical diagnosis before seeking help offering support. This goes for your teenage kids or any adolescent you may know, especially considering the hormonal, physical, and emotional changes they undergo in their transition from childhood to adulthood.
Should you notice any extreme changes in disposition, or are worried about the state of your teenager’s mental health, here are the things that you can do to offer comfort and support. As the parent, guardian, coach, or teacher, it is your responsibility to safeguard their holistic health. Do everything you can for these young minds to flourish because the new generation is the hope of the future. Below are some ways to support an adolescent’s mental health:
1. Foster a sense of belonging
It can be an upsetting feeling for anyone to be made an outcast. Many studies indicate that alienation and social isolation can contribute to feelings of loneliness and depression. To combat this, it is important to create a safe space for your teenagers at home. It is critical to make them feel like there is a place for them to freely express their innermost thoughts without being judged. They need a home in every sense of the word where they can be appreciated and where they can belong.
This feeling allows them to develop a strong sense of self-identity. This is vital because it will inspire them to trust the people around them, including themselves. The same goes for school settings and other environments where you may be influential to an adolescent. One way to make any teenaager feel like they belong is to offer listening ears. Sometimes, they just want to be heard and don’t necessarily need advice.
Additionally, it helps to reach out to teengares once in a while even when things seem fine. Do it even more, especially when you feel like they need it. Keeping open lines of communication tells them that you are there, you care, and that they can easily reach out to you.
2. Build resilience by encouraging strong character
Difficult moments and turbulent events can cause great emotional distress. It can be very distressing for you as an adult to watch your teens go through rough times. However, bear in mind that these trials are a part of life. While these moments may cause duress, it is equally harmful to shelter an adolescent from the realities of life. You cannot fight their battles for them as this prevents them from growing, learning, and building a strong character.
One way to support their mental health is to guide them through these challenges and encourage them to go through them as best as they can. The outcome will leave them feeling more confident and secure. After all, it feels very rewarding when they can see they have the ability to overcome challenging situations. Self-worth and inner strength are forged under tough times.
3. Help them develop skills and reach their potential
As a parent, you want your teens to build independent thought processes, with the presence of mind to make sensible decisions even amidst pressure. After all, you cannot be with them all the time. Thus, it is also important to help your teens develop area competencies. It doesn’t mean they have to be the best at everything. You can start by finding out what the interests of your adolescents are.
Motivating them to try something new and guiding them to develop skills that they enjoy will be beneficial to their overall well-being. For example, you can encourage them to engage in sports, do music, or find other creative outlets like painting, dancing, or baking. All of these activities will give them a sense of fulfillment. It will also fuel them to pursue their passions and live life with a sense of purpose. This helps them find direction, which provides a sense of security and thwarts reckless behavior. .
4. Encourage them to help others
Adolescents need to be reminded that they are capable of making a difference. Giving them this chance can build their self-esteem and allow them to build connections with people in their communities. This also gives them the opportunity to form meaningful connections with people who can become potential friends.
Inspiring your teens to be active in community events also acquaints them with different types of personalities. You can bring them to do volunteer work in soup kitchens, join a mentoring program, visit hospitals, do fund drives, etc. There are many things to do that allies with their interest. The key is to get them involved as it forges a strong sense of work ethic and responsibility.
5. Inspire them to exercise for better physical and mental health
Good physical health aids in bettering mental health and vice-versa. Encourage your teens to stay physically active because it stimulates the brain to release endorphins or the happy hormones which make them feel good about themselves. There are many activities to do like sports, recreational activities, gym classes, etc.
Model good behaviour by teaching your teens habits to exercise regularly and incorporate healthy eating habits and adequate sleep into their lifestyle. All of them work to lessen the stress on the body, which affects hormone release and other bodily processes. In turn, all of these can alleviate feelings of anxiety, anger, and depression.
6. Provide access to mental health resources
One of the best ways to be supportive is to do what you can to lessen the stigma surrounding access to mental health resources. This includes not using a negative lens when discussing mental health. Emphasize that they don’t need to feel something to seek counseling. In fact, it is healthy and cathartic to regularly unload emotional burdens by speaking to someone, especially a professional.
It is important to remind your teens that these services are available anytime. Introduce the idea of mental health care approaches, like therapy and group discussions via a support group. This will allow your teens to be more comfortable in reaching out for professional help. Fortunately, thanks to technology, you also now have easy access to online consultation pages today that may be more cost-efficient and just as effective as traditional therapy.
These virtual consultations will also allow you and your teens to access mental health care even if you are living in places where in-person services are not available. Additionally, this is also a great place to start if the adolescent is not yet ready to commit their physical presence, resources, and availability required of traditional face-to-face therapy.
Mental Health is Wealth
Mental health care is a critical form of healthcare. This article touched on just some of the ways that you can help support an adolescent who is struggling. More importantly, bear in mind that this process starts with how you view your own mental health. Before venturing out to help another person with theirs, it is also helpful to seek assistance for yourself. You can also benefit from taking a CircleDNA test, an at-home DNA test which provides a genetic risk analysis of mental health disorders, diseases and other health conditions that could potentially run in your family.
A little help goes a long way, and in using these tips, you may very well save and positively impact a young life. That being said, it is important to remember that people are shaped by their experiences, so it is best to view others through a lens of compassion and understanding, especially a vulnerable adolescent. Take initiative when you see an adolescent (or anyone) struggling.