Myths that Need Busting About Teen Mental Illness – Part One

The teen years already have a bad rap. It’s the time in life when there are drugs, sex, risky behavior, rebelliousness, and impulsivity. For parents, home could be a living hell. At least this is the rant that we constantly in the media. However, the majority of teens succeed, do well, find their passion, enjoy life, and go on to live a successful and meaningful life.

For that reason, it’s important to examine information about teens before taking them as truth. Below are a few myths about teen mental illness along with the truth behind them.


  1. Teens might be depressed during adolescence, but they will grow out of it.

Depression is a progressive disease, meaning that it can get worse over time. It’s an illness that often requires medical attention, such as counseling and medication. Some teens are vulnerable to depression because of the many changes that are going on for them physically, psychologically, socially, and emotionally. Furthermore, when parents and caregivers do not address depression in their teen, they put their child at risk for suicide, self-harm, and other forms of suffering.


Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens. And in most cases, suicidal thinking is related to untreated depression. Teens don’t grow out of depression. They might grow out of being vulnerable to depression. If your teen is exhibiting signs of depression (sadness, low mood, confusion, inability to concentrate, change in sleep and eating patterns), it’s important that you get your teen mental health support.


  1. A “high-functioning” teen can’t have a mental illness.

Psychological illness is not something that we can see. Unlike having a cold or breaking a leg, mental illness exists primarily within. So, it can be hard to detect. And when teens are high functioning, it can make it even more difficult for parents to see that there might be a problem. In fact, parents might look at their teen and see someone who is smart, capable, and in control. However, on the inside, a teen might be terribly sad or anxious. Teens might even put a fake smile on in order to evade their parents from the truth.


Many teens who are seen as high functioning might be seen as doing okay, but their needs will often go neglected. This has been the case for many gifted teens. And other high functioning teens might experience this as well. If you’re a parent or caregiver, check in with your teen periodically about their feelings and thoughts. Or have your teen assessed by a mental health provider – even if you’re not seeing any blatant mental health symptoms.


  1. Teens aren’t old enough to have a mental illness.

Sadly, some adults dismiss the pain that teens experience. They consider it to be part of the woes of adolescence. However, there are some very real painful experiences that teens can experience, many of them are related to psychological illness. Furthermore, if a teen believes that something is wrong and a parent dismisses it, the dismissal could add to the emotional pain a teen is experiencing. Furthermore, it makes it more difficult for a teen. Many teens will believe that it’s their fault. They might have the expectation that they need to snap out of it or pull themselves up by their bootstraps. If an adult dismisses a teen’s cry for help, a teen might be at risk for worsening psychological illness.


Many teens are vulnerable to mental illness. They are not too young. In fact, even children experience mental illness. If your teen is reaching out for help, contact a mental health provider today.

These are a few myths people hold about teen mental illness. This is the first of two articles. Look for the second article for more myths and the truths behind them.