7 Things You Can Do to Support Your Teen's Mental Health

7 Things You Can Do to Support Your Teen's Mental Health

About half of adolescents and teens struggle with a mental health issue at some point during their young lives, according to data from the US Department of Health & Human Services. That sounds bleak, but the good news is that teens are resilient, and with the right support, they can get better.

At Nevada Pediatric Specialists, our teen health specialists provide excellent medical care along with mental health services and referrals aimed at helping patients get the help they need to lead healthier, happier lives. As a parent, you play a key role, too, and here are seven simple but crucial ways you can help.

1. Be a good listener

Every generation is challenged in new and different ways, so completely understanding exactly what your teen is going through is almost certainly impossible. But by being a good listener, you can develop a better understanding of your teen’s challenges and help them see you as a trusted and valuable resource, too. 

Ask your child about their day, let them know you’re always there for them, and most importantly, don’t judge or be dismissive of their feelings. Avoid statements that convey shame, blame, or disappointment in them. Show them the same respect and understanding you’d like to have when something is troubling you.

2. Avoid being a problem-solver

When your teen comes to you with a problem they’re dealing with, it can be tempting to take control and “help” your teen by tackling the problem yourself. But this can be intrusive for your teen, and it prevents them from learning vital coping skills that can help them handle problems in their adult lives. 

Instead, offer support and gentle guidance that encourages them to work through the problem and devise their own solution. Let them know you’re proud of their strength.

3. Provide positive feedback

Teens experiencing emotional health issues are particularly vulnerable to even slight criticism. Make it a conscious habit to compliment your teen on a job well done — even the simplest efforts are worthy of praise. Not only can this help defuse some of the tension they’re feeling, but it can also help combat the feelings of low self-worth that accompany mental health problems.

4. Take an interest in their interests

You don’t have to immerse yourself in video games or get wrapped up in the latest social media trends, but you should know about the things your teen is interested in. Awareness helps you understand where your teen is coming from, and you can also subtly guide them away from negative influences to help avoid problems like cyberbullying that could damage your teen’s self-esteem. 

5. Keep it casual

Look for ways to incorporate “together time” into your daily routine. Setting aside a specific time to share a cup of tea, making dinner together, or going for regular walks provides time for talking and catching up without making it seem as though you’re prying or interfering with your teen’s independence. 

6. Suggest counseling when appropriate

Getting professional help for mental health issues plays a critical role in helping your teen stay healthy emotionally and physically. Mental health professionals can help your teen work through stressors and situations that they might not be comfortable talking over with you. Let your teen know you’re open to helping them find a counselor and that you’ll respect their boundaries and their privacy.

7. Model healthy behavior

Your teen takes a lot of cues from your own behavior, so make sure to model positive reactions when you’re confronted by a stressful situation. Let your teen see you working through possible solutions while staying calm and focused. You might even ask them to problem-solve with you.

Early treatment is the key to breaking unhealthy cycles associated with mental health issues. If your child needs treatment, or if you need some guidance to help you cope, we can help. To learn more, call 702-457-5437 or book an appointment online with Nevada Pediatric Specialists today.

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