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Breaking the Silence: Navigating the Teen Mental Health Crisis

According to the Centers for Disease Control, teenagers have experienced a rise in suicidal thoughts, plans and even attempts over the last several years. Official data suggests we are in the middle of a significant mental health crisis that may only get worse. By learning how to identify common mental health issues and resources available in the community, parents and caregivers can act before it’s too late.

Common Mental Health Issues Among Teens

A considerable factor contributing to suicide risk and the development of additional mental health issues is social media. As it becomes the primary mode of communication, a rise in mood disorders, depression and suicide has also taken hold. The pressures to fit in, stress at home, questions about identity and anxiety over academic achievement are some of the many challenges teens face today. It should come as no surprise that the rate of depression and anxiety is increasing, too.

Barriers To Seeking Help

Although half of all adolescents will struggle with mental health at some point, many do not receive the treatment they need. There are many reasons teens give for not seeking help. Some of the most common reasons include difficulty identifying or communicating their symptoms, worry about stigma or shame, preferring to “work it out” on their own and a belief that help is hard to access. Some teens are embarrassed about their feelings or feel their struggles aren’t a big deal. Unfortunately, children and adolescents who do not receive professional help for their mental health face a higher risk of drug abuse and suicide.

Supporting Teen Mental Health

The nation’s mental health crisis among teens is serious and requires a multifaceted approach. Parents and caregivers are a big part of the solution. If you notice changes in your teenager’s behavior, reach out to them and address your concerns. Teenagers often feel isolated, and connecting with someone who cares can make a difference. Make yourself available if they want to talk and truly listen to what they say. If they open up, validate their feelings instead of just offering solutions. Acknowledging their pain can make them feel seen and heard.

Resources and Support Systems

Another way to support your teen is to help them get professional support if necessary. Sometimes, it can be difficult for parents to tell if their teenagers are struggling with depression and anxiety. If you notice specific behavioral changes, such as skipping school, losing interest in hobbies, sleeping more than usual or failing grades, it may be time to get help. If you’re unsure where to start, your child’s school counselor may be able to provide you with a list of resources or support systems in your local community.
Finding your teen the professional support they need can make a significant difference in their treatment outcome and decrease their risk of suicide. By being there for them and normalizing conversations about mental health, you can create a supportive environment, making it easier for them to speak up if they are struggling.

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