Home Mental Health & Well-Being Common Questions and Answers About Teenage Mental Health

Common Questions and Answers About Teenage Mental Health

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As a guardian or parent, it’s vital to understand how, why and how your teen behaves to ensure optimal health and happiness. By understanding which behaviours are normal for a child of a certain age versus behaviours that signal there’s a problem, concerned parents are better equipped for treating teen mental health issues and preventing a condition from worsening. 

Like adults, teens can sometimes experience intense emotions as they get older or go through stressful events in their life. For instance, it’s common for teens (just like adults) to go through a phase of depression after the death of a family member, friend, or significant other. Teens may also exhibit emotional imbalances as a response to puberty, social stressors, family issues, and any number of other conditions.  With this in mind, here are some facts every parent or guardian should know about teenage mental health.

Can mental health issues in teens be managed?

With the right treatment, mental illness among teenagers is very manageable. But, it’s often only treated once issues have gone on for months and months because parents deny that anything is going on with the child. You should start talking to your teen if you’re worried about them.

If your teen seems stressed or there’s been a change in their behaviour, it’s best to bring it up with them. It may not necessarily mean a psychiatric disorder such as depression or anxiety, but it can still be a sign that something is going on in their life that is causing difficulties for them (stress). If you’re concerned that your teen might have a mental condition, schedule an appointment with a Penn primary care physician.

What are the statistics on teen mental health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) cites that depression and anxiety are the leading causes of mental affliction in teenagers.  Moreover, WHO reports that one in seven pre-teens and teens undergo some type of mental disorder, which accounts for 13% of teens globally who struggle with mental conditions.  Additionally, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among teens.  

Studies conducted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) have also shown that parents with poor mental health often have children with poor mental health. In fact, 1 out of every 14 children lives with a parent with poor mental health. Therefore, fathers and mothers (or any caregiver who is in the role of a parent) need support, which can then help them support their child’s mental health.

What role do parents play in teen mental health?

Mentally healthy parents (or guardians) who possess a positive outlook on life are more likely to pass this on to their children. The opposite is also true.  When parents and guardians demonstrate to children that they can achieve developmental milestones and develop proper social skills – this results in mentally healthier teens.

Alternatively, parents who struggle with chronic mental health dysfunction or challenges often find themselves lacking support for the care of their teen. This can lead to decreased mental function for parents who are already struggling to care for children that are often neglected. In addition, these children may experience shared risks such as inherited vulnerabilities, dangerous environments, and discrimination or deprivation at a young age.

Does the environment impact teen mental health?

Adolescents can experience a variety of environmental triggers, such as exposure to violence and abuse, which can lead to mental health problems. In fact, research from the WHO has shown that one out of every 14 children suffer from mental health issues if they have been subjected to poverty or other environmental disruptions such as divorce, abuse, violence, or trauma.

It is important to take steps to promote an adolescent’s socio-emotional learning and psychological well-being if they are susceptible to adversity. It is also beneficial for adolescents’ health and well-being during adulthood for them to have access to mental health care services.

What happens if teen mental health is left untreated?

Mental illnesses can cause ongoing, severe symptoms that affect a child’s feelings, thinking and daily activities. This is where a parent or guardian needs to assess how long a teen has been displaying signs of mental illness. If left unaddressed or untreated, teen mental health issues can increase in severity.  This is why it is essential to stay on top of teen mental health.

Yes, temporary stress, depression, and anxiety are indeed normal in all teens.  However, pay close attention to avoid these emotional phases getting out of control or worsening. Ultimately, the best way to help teens with mental health struggles is to stay alert and encourage open communication with them.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.


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