Tuesday 22 February 2022

Ad | How to Support Teenagers With A Mental Health Condition

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be sharing some posts from Marie Miguel at Better Help, which has a huge FREE resource library of health advice. Marie has been writing and researching health-related topics for nearly a decade, and she has a focus on subjects related to anxiety and depression.

How to Support Teenagers With A Mental Health Condition

Life as a teenager can be quite difficult. This is the period of time where both their minds and bodies are changing rapidly. They are starting to figure out who they are and have to navigate a complex web of school, social lives, and extracurricular activities, all while planning for their future.

3  young men aged 12 to 22 sitting outside in a garden wearing sunglasses

However, life can become even more challenging if your teenager lives with a mental health condition. Until recently, the mental wellness of teenagers was a subject that wasn’t dealt with seriously. Even though times are changing, many adults still dismiss mental health conditions in teenagers as hormones or moodiness. However, about 49.5% of adolescents experience some sort of mental health condition, so this stigma needs to be challenged.

Understanding your teenager’s condition and showing love and support is crucial. Otherwise, it will be far more difficult for them to live and cope with their condition in adulthood. Read on to explore how you can support your teenager with a mental health condition.

Research the Condition

Many people are dismissive of mental health issues in teenagers because they don’t understand them. However, this can do even more damage, making the teenager feel isolated or that something is wrong with them.

Therefore, a little research goes a long way. Not only will you learn about coping and treatment strategies, but you will understand the emotions and challenges they face each day. BetterHelp is a free online source that provides plenty of information about supporting the mental wellness of teenagers.

It will also help to discuss the condition with a pediatrician or mental health professional. They will provide information and insight on supporting your teenager and providing a safe and comfortable home for them.

Reassure Them of Your Love and Support

The challenges of adolescence combined with the obstacles of a mental health condition can overwhelm a teenager. If that teenager doesn’t feel loved or supported by their friends, family, or teachers, then they will also feel isolated or that something is wrong with them. Therefore, showing daily support and love can do wonders as they cope with these challenges.

Teenage boy receiving a hug from grandmother while grandfather looks on

Though you are probably aware of how important it is to remind your children you love them, it is even more crucial if your teenager has a mental health condition. Teenagers face quite a bit of pressure and judgment, making them feel alone or unloved. A mental health condition only worsens those feelings as they are not always acting according to societal expectations.

Furthermore, sometimes in the busyness of daily life, it can be easy to forget to say “I love you” or show affection for your teenager. But making a daily effort to show love is precisely what every teenager needs, especially if they live with a mental illness. So throughout the ups and downs of living with a teenager with a mental health condition, make sure to show them that you support them no matter what happens.

Encourage The Healthy Expression of Emotions

Sometimes teenagers feel like they aren’t allowed to express their needs and emotions, especially if they conflict with the emotions of the adults in their life. However, healthy expression of emotions is crucial to maintaining good mental health and well-being. 

Some adults dismiss the emotions of teenagers because they believe that they are too young to truly understand their feelings or know what they want. But since teenagers are nearly adults, their emotions and needs should be listened to with empathy, not dismissal.

One way to encourage the healthy expression of emotions is by working on your communication. Talk through conflicts calmly and avoid letting your emotions get the best of you. Listen with empathy and understanding when your teenager discusses their challenges and needs that are brought on by their mental health condition. Respect their emotions equally important as anyone else’s in your family.

You can also encourage them to find other outlets for their emotions, such as extracurricular activities, journaling, or art. These activities can help teenagers work through their emotions and conflicts while also providing an excellent outlet for expressing themselves.

Artwork showing a person and textured background, plus text 'nothing in comparison to the enormity of you'
Artwork by my stepson for his A Level project
He went on to achieve a First class degree at University of London

Help Them Find Coping Strategies and Treatments

Part of your research includes finding ways to help your teenager live as normal of a life as possible. Therefore, you will need to help them find coping strategies or treatment options. Unfortunately, most mental health conditions make it difficult to live a normal life without coping mechanisms.

These options can include attending counseling, practicing mindfulness meditation, or taking medication prescribed by a medical professional. In some cases, you may need to make some major lifestyle or scheduling changes to ensure your teenager’s well-being. For example, your teenager may benefit from online or homeschooling, or you may need to limit consumption of certain foods or media (such as social media or television).

Don’t Forget To Take Care of Yourself!!

You can’t fully support your children if you aren’t well yourself. So make sure to get ample sleep, regular exercise, and eat well for full mental vitality. By doing so, you will have enough energy to support your teenager through both the good and bad and will be able to be more present with them.

(Photos show my boys in their Enchroma colourblindness glasses, which we received for review.)

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