According to Mentalhealth.org, 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24. These are shocking statistics, and truly reveal that our teenagers are finding life more challenging than we may realise. Below I will explore teenage mental health more, as well as go into what you should do when your teenager can’t cope.
What causes teenage mental health problems?
Teenagers have a lot to deal with. Firstly, hormones can wreak havoc on emotions and can naturally lead to individuals experiencing many highs and lows in life. Teen mental health, like adults, can be affected by all sorts of factors.
Biological factors, such as genetics, recovering from a brain injury, infection or disease as well as prenatal damage can all be causes of mental health issues. Substance abuse is also a cause of mental health disorders.
Then, there are environmental factors, which are usually triggers for stress which the adolescent has to deal with daily. This can be:
- School or work demands
- Trauma- emotional, physical or sexual abuse
- Unstable or dysfunctional home environment, or unsafe living conditions
- Chronic illnesses or obesity
- Early loss of someone close to them
- A natural disaster
- A car accident
- Violence, such as school shootings or witnessing a traumatic event
- The pressure of cultural or social expectations, and feelings of inadequacy
- Stress overload can induce frequent illness, making them withdraw from friends, family and their usual activities and daily routine.
According to WHO, suicide is the second leading cause in death for 10-24-year olds. It is heart-breaking that teens feel the need to take their own life, that they feel helpless and stuck.
CAMHS is often where those with mental health issues are sent, but the wait is far longer than it should be, which instantly stalls how well it works. There is also no offer of one to one therapy. According to the Local Government Association, “Around 75 per cent of young people experiencing a mental health problem are forced to wait so long their condition gets worse or are unable to access any treatment at all.”
For suicide awareness month, I believe it’s important to make changes so that we can prevent future high stats of teen suicide. It’s so important to get teenagers help with mental health.
What can you do as a parent when your teenager can’t cope?
As you can see, there are many factors in which can contribute to why a teenager is suffering with their mental health. What’s important, is how to combat this. So, as a parent, what can you do as a parent when your teenager can’t cope?
- Ensure that as a parent or caregiver that you are aware of what is going on both physically in your teen’s life but also emotionally. We all have our different levels of being able to cope with external stressors, life experience and emotions, so bare that in mind whilst your teen is opening up. Something that may not affect you, or their sibling, may still feel like the end of the world for them.
- Show praise for efforts, and make sure to point out achievements, and great values they have as well as any accomplishments. This will help to boost their self-esteem.
- Spend quality time with your teen one on one as well as a family. Do something they love doing, even if it’s as simple as playing on the Xbox, or if it puts you out of your comfort zone.
- Show them in love and affection. As teens they may find this embarrassing, so this doesn’t necessarily have to be in their face, but try find subtle, more mature ways of showing them. This could be as simple as letting them choose the music in the car or buying them their favourite chocolate.
- Spend time each day trying to encourage them to talk about their feelings with you. Show up and show that you care. Find solutions to problems, and never judge. Even if you’re unhappy with something that they have done, don’t snap and shout, but be kind and try to show some understanding as they may not feel like they can turn to you again in the future.
- Whenever a problem arises, deal with it head on rather than letting it build up.
- Turn to friends, family, a GP or therapist if you are concerned. I specialise in treating teenagers with mental health issues. It’s far better to get help now, then problem escalate and turn into something more dangerous.
- It’s important to take care of your teen’s physical health too to keep them healthy. This includes staying active, encourage them to go on a daily run, or a bike ride with you.
- Develop healthy eating habits at home which you can all implement.
- Ensure that your teen is getting enough quality sleep.
- Make sure alcohol and other drugs are out of the picture.
I hope that this article has helped you understand mental health problems in teenagers better. As you can see, there are many reasons for mental health issues to develop in a teenager’s life, but the key is to tackle it as quickly as possible. If you find that your teenager can’t cope, try to show them that you’re there for them, and listen.
If your teen has reached a point where they can’t cope, then get in touch with me, Tracy Kimberg. I have found over the years of my work with teenagers, that one to one therapy can be extremely powerful, and reap successful results. Don’t let your teen suffer in silence, reach out for help today.