The teenage years are a struggle for both teens and parents. Many standard features of adolescence, like peer pressure, schoolwork, and changing hormones, can get overwhelming. Some degree of rebellion and moodiness is normal for adolescents. This can make it difficult to know when to step in and seek help for your teen’s mental health struggles. When a teen does not know to deal with emotional issues and lacks self-esteem or social skills, they may feel overwhelmed by these rites of passage.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in a given year, only 20% of teens with mental health struggles and identified and receive mental health services. The number of teens who are struggling is estimated to be much higher. Untreated mental health issues can lead to more difficult problems in other areas of one’s life without paying attention to early warning signs.
Talk to your teen about mental health.
Having open conversations about mental health is important for families. This is the case even before their child shows signs that they might be struggling. This lets teens know that it is not shameful to be honest with others or to ask for help. This might look like asking how their day was or talking about mental health in the media. Talking about positive emotions is just as important as potential challenges.
Consider what might be normal teen behavior versus cause for concern.
A lot of warning signs do not become apparent until teens need therapeutic intervention. Especially if raising a teenager is new for you, it may be hard to differentiate between what challenges are just part of growing up and which are signs that your child is struggling to adapt to adolescence. It is normal for teens to experience stress and relationship issues. How they deal with these stressors is a better indicator of their mental health than their existence.
Remember that actions may speak louder than words.
Sometimes your teen may put up a mask and try to hide the fact that they are struggling from you. While you want to trust that what they say is true, it is important to pay attention to their behavior as well if it seems inconsistent with their claims that they are on top of things and don’t need help. It is also possible that your teen may struggle to articulate “I feel anxious” or “I feel depressed.” Knowing the warning signs of mental health issues can help you recognize when to intervene.
Some behavioral changes to look out for may include:
- Changes in academic performance
- Changes in appetite or sleep schedule
- Spending more time alone in their room
- Spending less time at home or sneaking out
- Experimenting with substances
If you are worried about your teen’s mental health, residential programs, like wilderness therapy, can help them learn healthier coping mechanisms in a structured environment.
blueFire Wilderness Can Help
blueFire Wilderness Therapy is an adventure-based program for teens ages 11-17 who struggle with depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors. Wilderness therapy removes students from the distraction of peers, devices, and demands of life and allows them to heal in a supportive and nurturing environment. Students will be able to focus on themselves and become more aware of how their attitude affects their actions. BlueFire gives them the skills and tools they need to heal from unhealthy behaviors and be on their way to a happy and healthy life.
Contact us at 1-844-413-1999. We can help your family today!