APU Health & Fitness Mental Health Original

Mental Health in Teenagers: The Challenges and Solutions

The mental health of their teenagers should be a concern of every parent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poor mental health in adolescents is increasing. The CDC also notes that in a study, 42% of high school students reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless with 22% considering a suicide attempt.

The Signs of Poor Mental Health in Teenagers

Parents should be able to recognize when their teenagers are struggling with mental health. Indicators of poor mental health in teenagers include:

  • Significant changes in behavior
  • Withdrawal from school or friends
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Substance abuse

There are also other factors that might influence teenagers’ mental health. For instance, many teenagers are anxious about their appearance, especially if they are overweight. Encouraging healthy eating and promoting regular exercise can bring obesity under better control, which can have an adverse effect on children’s mental and physical health.

Related link: Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Overcome Its Symptoms

How Parents Can Encourage Good Mental Health in Teenagers

Parents should take an active role in their teenagers’ lives. Some parents believe that their teenagers need space and often leave their kids to figure life out on their own.

However, this type of behavior and the lack of a support system can cause problems. Teenagers often need help navigating the challenges associated with peer relationships, dating and bullying.

Parents should take the time to have an active role in their children’s lives. For instance, parents can show their support by attending sports events, setting time aside for private one-on-one chats and being available to answer life’s difficult questions.

Parents can also instill self-confidence in their children, a quality that is highly important when teenagers experience bullying and peer conflicts. Active involvement in children’s lives will also reduce the risk of a teenager’s drug abuse, alcohol abuse and other negative behaviors used to cope with stress.

Encouraging teenagers to be active in youth groups at church and in the community can also be helpful. These groups can provide a healthy place for teenagers.

Related link: 3 Physical Activities for Reducing and Managing Your Stress

Reducing Stress from Maintaining a Proper Work-Life Balance

Parents can also help teenagers to develop an effective work-life balance. Some teenagers become so bogged down with multiple responsibilities – such as schoolwork, part-time jobs, sports, and household chores – that they have no time to decompress and relax. The lack of a proper work-life balance can create stress and create long-term mental health challenges for teenagers.

For example, participating in a club or high school sports team can be good for children, as long as they do not become overwhelmed with so many responsibilities that their schedule becomes difficult to manage. Ideally, teenagers should be taught how to properly manage their time so that they are not always behind schedule or having to rush through life.

Parents Should Also Remain in Close Contact with Teachers and Other Adult Supervisors of Their Children

To foster good mental health in teenagers, parents should remain in communication with teachers and other adult supervisors who regularly communicate with their children, such as community center staff. Parents should also be made aware of any significant changes in their teenagers’ behavior. Major changes in a child’s behavior could be the result of a problem such as bullying, which can create major mental health problems if it is not promptly addressed.

All Teenagers Will Undergo Experiences That Will Challenge Their Mental Health

Inevitably, all teenagers are going to undergo life experiences that will test their mental health. However, encouraging resiliency through effective communication, high self-esteem, and effective decision making can help teenagers overcome mental health challenges. 

Each teenager is different. However, being active as a parent is the most useful way to develop good mental health in teenagers.

Jarrod Sadulski

Dr. Sadulski is an Associate Professor within our School of Security and Global Studies. He has over two decades in the field of criminal justice. His expertise includes training on countering human trafficking, maritime security, effective stress management in policing and narcotics trafficking trends in Latin America. Jarrod frequently conducts in-country research and consultant work in Central and South America on human trafficking and current trends in narcotics trafficking. He also has a background in business development. Jarrod can be reached through his website at www.Sadulski.com for more information.

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