Teen Mental Health: 10 Essential Things Parents Should Know
Parents, guardians, and caregivers all over the U.S. have been struggling themselves on a number of fronts during the coronavirus pandemic – with their own mental health, their continuing financial needs, and the well-being and schooling of their children.
For many parents, the concern over their teenage children is enough to cause anxiety and stress at the best of times. With the ongoing pandemic and abrupt and unforeseen stoppages in their children’s academic lives, it’s perfectly understandable.
However, how many U.S. adults with kids are being proactive about their teen’s mental health and wellbeing? The answer, unfortunately, is not enough.
The following short guide for parents, guardians, and caregivers – 10 Essential Things Parents Should Know – is designed with the simple intention of offering practical and helpful advice to adults who are constantly wondering or are concerned about the mental health of their teenage children.
As any parent knows, kids do not come along with a step-by-step “User Manual” or even a generic “To-Do list.” The first rule of parenting, as many moms and dads know only too well, is there are no rules.
1. Focus on Your Relationship with Your Teen
Like many families in the U.S., your family may well be going through a stressful time. As a parent striving to do their best, you may feel like you are the glue holding it all together, from organizing their school and their activities, right up to preparing the family meal in the evening.
The answer to this added stress? Focus solely on the relationship you have with your teen, their well-being, and your close connection with them. Forget the rest – nothing is more important than the well-being of your children.
2. Do Your Best – You Can’t Do More
Don’t set unrealistic goals for your teen or yourself. Always try to do your best, that’s a given for any parent, but don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go exactly to plan. Concentrate on quality time together, and forget about being the best parent at your kid’s high school.
3. Don’t Compare Your Family to Others
Every family has had to make changes during the pandemic, but those changes are unlikely to be identical in any way. So don’t even bother comparing how your family is doing next to the families of your teenager’s friends, for example. They’re fundamentally different to begin with.
4. Focus on Being The Parent You’d Like To Be
Social media and other online forms of media – news channels, for one – are full of the latest cutting-edge ideas on “pandemic parenting” (reading this is not included, by the way).
Forget about all of that, and simply focus on being the parent you would like to be. For one, concentrate on being the parent of a happy and content child, and most everything else will fall into place.
5. Feeling Stressed? Press “Pause”
Parents who are feeling stressed and anxious at any point should certainly take this next step – press “Pause.” Take a breath, walk away from a troubling situation, and regain control. The last thing you want is to take your own frustrations out on your child.
An intense or hostile reaction will never help. It could, however, damage your relationship with your child. Sometimes the best reaction is no reaction at all.
6. Learn from Others
Every U.S. state sponsors a Family-Run Organization to provide educational advocacy for youth with mental or behavioral health struggles, and they have special tools, workshops, and conferences to share with parents and caregivers on mental and behavioral health in children and teens.
7. Practice Self-Care Regularly
Self-care is all about finding small opportunities to sustain yourself each and every day – especially if you’re a parent. Additionally, you’ll be providing an excellent example for your teen on how to practice self-care.
Lastly, limit your own screen time. Endlessly scrolling social media and the news channels is not self-care.
8. Get the Help of a Friend
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, why not ask a friend to help you out? It can be a sibling of yours, another family member, eg. a grandparent, a close friend or another parent. There is absolutely no shame in asking for a little assistance once in a while.
9. Get Your Own Mental Health Support
If your own mental health is concerning you, then seek mental health support for yourself. For example, now in the U.S., online mental health services and telehealth services have created more access and more opportunities to get help than ever before. Speak to your primary care doctor.
10. Teenage Wellbeing Signs to Watch Out For
1. An abrupt change in the overall mood of your child is not a common occurrence, especially if the mood persists
2. Your child takes a break from their normal friendships
3. They are no longer interested in favorite sports or activities
4. Your child’s sleeping habits change, such as having a hard time falling or staying asleep, or sleeping much more than usual
5. Changes in weight or their appetite
6. Difficulty remembering things, or concentrating for long periods
7. Changes in appearance, like a lack of hygiene or not caring about how they look
8. Abnormal behaviors, such as using drugs or alcohol
9. Thoughts about death or suicide (known as suicidal ideation) or talking about hurting themselves
These are warning signs related to your teen’s wellbeing. Just because they are not obviously apparent in your own child doesn’t mean everything is fine.
Always try to keep your lines of communication fully open. Remember, the best way to know how your child is feeling is to simply ask them.
Modern Recovery Services: Online Adolescent Therapy Programs
Whether your teen has come to you asking for therapy, or if you are concerned and would like an outside perspective, Modern Recovery is here to help you right now.
Our “Online Adolescent Therapy Programs” feature:
- Personalized Treatment Approach
- Group, Family, and Individual Therapy Sessions
- Intensive outpatient programming utilizing evidence-based curriculum
- Personal Coaches Matched to Specific Situations or Conditions
- Behavioral and Mental Health Visits Online with a Licensed Therapist
Online adolescent therapy at Modern Recovery Services is available for all those looking for an affordable, safe, and professional teletherapy option for their child.
Contact us today for more information, to ask any questions you may have, or to get started.
- World Health Organization (WHO International). COVID-19 Disrupting Mental Health Services in Most Countries, WHO Survey. October, 2020. Available at WHO.int.
- NPR.org. New clues to the biology of long COVID are starting to emerge. November 2021. Available at NPR.org.
- Mental Health America (MHA). The State of Mental Health in America. 2021. Available at MHANational.org.
- U.S. Census Bureau. Household Pulse Survey Data Tables. December, 2021. Available at Census.gov.
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Behavioral Health Workforce Report. 2020. Available at SAMHSA.gov.
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). U.S. National Survey of Drug Use & Health, 2020. October 2021. Available at SAMHSA.gov.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Resources. U.S. Surgeon General Issues Advisory on Youth Mental Health Crisis Further Exposed by COVID-19 Pandemic. December 2021. Available at HHS.gov.
University of South Florida. The National Directory of Family-Run & Youth-Guided Organizations for Children’s Behavioral Health. 2022. Available at USF.edu.