29 Apr How to Support Your Teen in Finding Mental Health Resources
Asking for help can be daunting, especially when it’s for mental health reasons. For teens, sometimes just recognizing that they need help can be a battle. On top of that, they then have to muster the courage to share what they are going through and ask for professional guidance. Resources such as counseling, group therapy, support organizations, and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) education can be powerful and positive routes to improve stress, anxiety, and other common mental health problems in teens. So, if they reach out to you about seeking help, the best thing to do is show that you are there for them. Keep reading for how to support your teen’s mental health treatment.
Take Them Seriously
Your teen took a leap of faith to share something personal. Your support could mean a lot more to them than you realize. So, if your teen expresses interest in mental health resources, take their word for it. Avoid quizzing them about what they are going through as it might make them feel misunderstood or judged. Be careful to avoid any behavior that might appear to your teen as denial of how they are feeling. Remember, even if you are there to support them fully, sometimes there are things that parents simply cannot help with. While private or group therapy offers teens a safe space to talk freely and work through things on their own with professional mental health guidance, workshops and SEL curriculum can provide teens with resources to learn and grow both together and individually. Ask your teen to consider which option might work best for them.
Give Your Approval
Teens might be hesitant to open up, for worry about a parent or guardian’s reaction to their request for help. So be sure to show your approval and offer any assistance in their pursuit of seeking mental health resources. Show them that you respect their decision and are prepared to offer your support throughout their wellness journey. If willing, reveal that you are proud of your teen for standing up for themselves and taking care of their emotions. Above all, be sure to show your teen that this will not change the way you think or feel about them. Let them know that your approval is judgment free.
Avoid Being Defensive
As much as parents and guardians sometimes worry that their teen’s happiness is their responsibility, know that the struggles your teen is going through may not have anything to do with you and there is not necessarily anything you could have done to prevent them. People can seek mental health help for a variety of reasons such as anxiety, trouble sleeping, or simply feeling overwhelmed. Oftentimes, they just need to feel like they can receive unbiased help or insightful new perspectives to privately handle personal matters on their own or with the support of others. So, be sure to focus your attention on your teen and ask if there is anything you can do differently to be there for them.
Offer to Help
Finding the right resources can feel like a big task for teens, especially when they are struggling. Offer to help your teen look for the right person, group, or class and assist them in figuring out any additional details. If necessary, work through any financial, transportation, or other potential roadblocks together. Show your teen that you will take the time to work with them towards the best possible fit. In the meantime, you can provide stand-in questions and mental health activities for teens in the meantime. They can practice journaling solo or confiding in you or another trusted ally with anything they are comfortable with.
Show Your Appreciation
When teens reveal how they are feeling, it can be a big deal. So make it a priority to show your teen a supportive response. Let them know how much you appreciate their trust in you and thank them for letting you in on what they are going through. Show them that coming to you was easier than they expected and ultimately the right thing to do. While you help your teen find the best mental health resources, offer yourself as a safe place for them to take their personal matters if they are comfortable. This shows them that they are certainly not alone. A positive and welcoming reaction is likely to make your teen feel comfortable approaching you for help or advice the next time they need it.
At Tilly’s Life Center, we believe that teen mental health resources should be easily accessible to all. Our mission is to provide social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum to help teens make positive, healthy, and productive decisions that allow them to lead fulfilled lives. To learn more, visit us at www.tillyslifecenter.org.