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How to Support Your Teen’s Mental Health

By Sanya B.

It’s crucial for parents to care for their children at every stage of development, including adolescence. This includes ensuring children receive adequate nutrition, regular exercise, and enough nightly sleep.

It also means cultivating good mental health. Adolescent mental health refers to a young person’s social, emotional, and mental well-being between the ages of 9 and 18.

The teen years can present their own unique parenting challenges. However, this is not a time to step away from your child, rather it is a time to adapt your approach to suit their changing needs as adolescents.

Teenagers who have good mental health often (from

  • feel happier and more positive about themselves and enjoy life
  • bounce back from upsets and disappointments
  • have healthier relationships with family and friends
  • do physical activity and eat a healthy diet
  • get involved in activities
  • have a sense of achievement
  • can relax and get a good night’s sleep
  • feel like they belong to their communities

Furthermore, mentally healthy teens typically develop into happier, more optimistic adults.

Stress and Vulnerability

According to the World Health Organization, when teens do suffer from mental health problems, it can come from simply being an adolescent. There are many sources of stress when you are a teenager, and they can include:

  • a desire for autonomy
  • peer pressure to fit in
  • technology use, especially social media
  • undergoing puberty
  • sexual identity exploration
  • academic pressure

Genetic and environmental factors can add to these stressors, making adolescence a particularly vulnerable time for mental health issues to arise. Seventy-five percent of serious mental health problems begin before the age of 25 years, with 26% of individuals from the age of 16 to 24 years of age experiencing a significant mental illness at some point in this period.

Unfortunately, the vast majority children and adolescents, despite have a clinically diagnosable mental health condition, do not receive the treatment they require. Early intervention is key to resolving many disorders. As time passes without treatment and therapy, many disorders can intensify and become resistant to intervention.

What To Do

Parents can take an active role in supporting their teen’s mental health by ensuring they have the skills, experiences and resources to help navigate the stresses of adolescence.

1.Make your child feel like they’re a part of something

Children’s healthy adjustment, self-identification, and sense of confidence in others and themselves are all dependent on their feeling connected and accepted. Participating in family gatherings, team sports, school clubs, theatre productions, faith groups and other community activities all help build a sense of belonging and connectedness.

2. Encourage resiliency

Adversity is a part of life, and being resilient is essential for overcoming obstacles and maintaining good mental health. Resilience may be fostered via connectedness, having a sense of competence, helping others, and overcoming adverse situations. Having a flexible mindset and sense of perspective helps as well.

3. Maintain an open and honest channel of communication

It’s critical that your child understands that they can come to you with any problem and that they will be listened to with love and support. Try to listen to them without passing judgement – it might be hard – and it will enhance the probability that they will come to you again when they have a problem.

4. Let them know how much you care for them and believe in them

Provide your child with an atmosphere in which they feel loved and accepted. This in turn will make them feel more secure and comfortable with themselves at a time when they are busy establishing a sense of identity. 

5. If necessary, seek professional help

As a parent, you must be able to recognise when your child requires assistance. Trying to manage your child’s behaviour or respond correctly to their emotions can be stressful or unpleasant at times. Don’t be hesitant to find or look for support – it can be a great benefit to both you and your child.

It can be difficult to discern between “normal” moodiness and indicators of a developing mental disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or other emotional difficulties. Be vigilant, and remember that you know your child best.

If you feel that your child needs extra support , contact the BDFC. We have mental health professionals who specialise in working with adolescents.