12 May Mental Health Awareness Month: How to Support Teens
May is Mental Health Awareness Month! This is a time to reflect on the fact that people everywhere are facing more emotional challenges than ever — for our teens especially. And the problem has gotten so much worse over the course of the pandemic, with extended periods of social distancing leading to exploding rates of anxiety and depression among adolescents.
And even if your teen seems to be acting normally, they still might be struggling inside, and in need of serious help. So, as we take time to reflect and raise awareness about struggles with mental health issues this month, we encourage you to take an active part in supporting the teens in your life. To get started, take a look at our ideas for recognizing signs of mental health issues, and how to support your teens.
As difficult as it can be to recognize and accept that your teen might be facing mental health challenges, it can be crucial for assisting in improvement. Recognizing the signs early can make teens more likely to be willing to accept help and can make working through issues more accessible. So keep an eye out for the following behaviors that might indicate mental health concerns in teens:
- Low energy levels, mood swings, or long lasting sadness.
- Clear or excessive worry or anxiety.
- Withdrawing, isolating, or loss of interest.
- Dramatic shifts in daily habits like eating, sleeping, and hygiene.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it can be a helpful place to start when trying to recognize a problem and approach finding mental health resources for teens. If you are concerned about your teen, do not hesitate to reach out to a doctor or other health professional for advice.
If you notice changes in your teen, even small ones, be sure to have an open line of communication so that they can feel comfortable reaching out for help. That means really listening and hearing what your teen has to say without necessarily forming opinions or offering advice. Stay open-minded. Teens need to know that they can talk freely with their parents and guardians without judgment. Not only will it make it easier for them to come to you for help, but it is a key part of supporting your teen.
If something is changing with your teen, or if they come to you with concerns, believe what you see or hear. Offer to assist them with whatever they might need to start feeling better. Whether they need assistance with making healthy meals, getting on an appropriate sleep schedule, finding a sense of calm, or even a buddy to go on walks with, this is a chance for you to show your support. Let your teen know that they are not alone in what they are going through and you are prepared to offer teen mental health resources such as mediation or journaling tools, healthy routines, or even just someone to talk to.
Creating a Safe Space
When life gets difficult and emotions are starting to feel out of control, teens need a safe space to discuss what they are going through and get advice. Maybe it’s group therapy, one-on-one sessions with a psychologist, or a workshop that provides resources for self reflection. Talk to your teen about whether or not they might be interested in taking advantage of one of these options. If they are not ready at first, keep an open ear in case their opinion changes!
At Tilly’s Life Center, our mission is to support teen mental health by raising awareness about the issues teens might be going through and offering creative solutions. Mental Health Awareness Month is just one opportunity to call attention to these important concerns and work towards destigmatization. Our social and emotional learning curriculum provides a helpful teen mental health resource for whatever they might be going through. To learn more, visit us at www.tillyslifecenter.org.