If your teen is dealing with mental health challenges, they’re not alone. Parents can be crucial in helping their teens handle these challenges, so let’s look at six ways you can support your teen’s mental health.
The first step to offering your teen support is learning about mental health. If you suspect your son or daughter is suffering from conditions such as depression or anxiety, it’s essential to research the issue and learn the signs of the conditions. This will help you recognize if any of their actions are cause for immediate concern. Educating yourself will also make it easier to find proper treatment down the line.
Start Talking and Listening
An important way you can support your teen’s mental health is by opening a dialog and listening to them. If you think your teen is dealing with mental health challenges, the worst thing you can do is to ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist. Talking openly and honestly about anxiety, depression, or lack of motivation helps to reduce the stigma around these challenges and lets your teen know it’s okay to speak up about what’s going on.
When you open up a dialog about their mental health, remember to actively listen to what they’re saying. Give your teen a chance to talk honestly, and be receptive to what they’re saying. Even if it gets uncomfortable, let them know you acknowledge their situation and understand their emotions.
Don’t Use Dismissive Language
When you open up a dialog with your teen, be mindful of the way you talk. Dismissive or judgmental language will do more harm than good. It might be tempting to tell your teen to “cheer up” or “get over it” because you think it will help, but making light of their situation is not what they need. Teens are especially sensitive to detecting judgment from others, so if they don’t feel accepted, they could stop opening up to you and being honest. Instead, try asking questions like, “How can I best support you right now?”
As your teen opens up, it’s important to be supportive of them. Let your teen know that having a mental health issue doesn’t change how much you love them.
And as difficult as it may be, don’t let your support transform into harmful enabling behavior. This can look like different things, such as blaming certain people or situations for what your child is experiencing, offering to do homework, or making excuses for their mental health challenges. While it’s never intended to be harmful, enabling can worsen your teen’s struggle. You may want to fix the situation for your child, but remember that mental health struggles need to be aided by mental health professionals.
Work Together to find Effective Strategies
Another way to support your teen’s mental health is to work together to find ways to ease feelings associated with mental health challenges. Finding an effective strategy together will help your child get through stressful situations. Some strategies might include breathing exercises or grounding exercises.
Breathing exercises are great for stressful situations. When your teen is experiencing anxiety or panic, they might lose control of their breathing. This will help remind them to breathe steadily and calmly. One way to do this exercise is to breathe in for a count of 3 seconds, hold your breath for 3 seconds, and breathe out for 6 seconds.
Grounding exercises help to refocus the mind and body. The best thing about this is it can be anything from focusing on your five senses to putting your hands in water. If your teen experiences negative, challenging emotions or flashbacks, this is a great way to get them refocused and centered. Above all, do your research on other strategies and work together with your teen to find the best option.
Look into Therapy Sessions
Talk therapy with a licensed counselor can go a long way to help your teen deal with mental health challenges. If you sign up your teen for treatment without consulting them, you may experience backlash and potentially worsen their mental health state. Share honestly about your concerns and help them understand they don’t have to be living with these challenges.
At Equity Associates, we are here to get your teen the help they need. Our therapy services are highly personalized for one’s unique needs and with our usage of telemental health, those seeking treatment can do so in the comfort of their home. We’re based in Ridgway, Colorado but can help those anywhere in the state. No matter what, we’re always here to support those who need us.