Many mental health problems begin during the teenage years, probably because it is such a difficult time. Teenagers deal with the daily stress of school, peer pressure, and relationships. They have the added stress of exams, learning to drive and getting their license, and impending college decisions. For some, there are also jobs and first monthly bills, like car insurance or cell phones. When combined with the day-to-day stress of home and family life, it can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your teenagers stay mentally healthy.
Stay connected. It is easy for parents and teens to drift apart, sometimes living in almost different worlds. Make an effort to stay connected to your teen. If you know what is happening in their lives, you can spot warning signals that your teen is having problems.
Maintain communication. Keep communication lines open with your teen. While he or she may not always want to talk, they need to know they can talk to you. If you put your teen off, constantly interrupt, or belittle what he or she is saying, then your teen will be less likely to talk to you about the important issues in his or her life.
Try to understand. Although your teenage years may seem like a long time ago, you can remember what it was like to be that age. Take a moment to think about what it was like to be a teenager. Instead of belittling your teen’s issues, or pointing out how small their problems are compared to those of your adult life, try to understand what it is like to be a teenager facing the issues a teenager faces.
Seek outside help. Many parents are afraid to seek outside help, whether a counselor or a friend’s advice, because they think it will make them appear incompetent. Do not be more concerned with what the neighbors will think than you are with your child’s mental health. If your child is struggling with problems that you do not feel capable of helping them handle, find someone who can help you both.
Your teen’s mental health has bearing on his or her mental health as an adult. How they learn to cope and adapt sets the stage for their coping and adapting skills throughout life. Taking the time to help them stay mentally healthy now will continue to help them during those times when you are not there.
You can help ensure that the choices your teen makes are healthy ones. While helping your teen stay healthy requires a little work, the benefits of your efforts will last a lifetime.