At first, it can be frightening for parents when they begin to see signs of mental illness in their teen. For instance, they might see signs of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. In fact, many parents aren’t familiar with the names of illnesses, but they might notice that their teen is sad often, sleeping a lot, or can hardly concentrate. They might hear that their teen is being aggressive more frequently at school.
Out of confusion or shock, as a parent, you might feel a whole host of emotions. However, consider the following tips to support you, your teen, and the rest of your family during this experience:
Analyze the Behavior: If you’re wondering about whether there is mental illness in your teen, examine his or her behavior to determine whether you should seek professional help. Sure, there is going to be moodiness with adolescence, but there’s no harm in having your teen assessed by a mental health professional.
Know It’s Not Your Fault: It’s easy for parents to want to take the blame when their teen is not well. It must have been something they did or a wrong decision that caused depression or anxiety. However, this cannot be further from the truth. Mental illness is no one’s fault.
Trust Yourself: No one knows your child as well as you do. No one will go to great lengths to ensure your child’s well being as much as you will. For that reason, trust yourself. Trust your instincts.
Don’t Do It Alone: Mental health professionals know how to respond to psychological illness. You don’t have to manage your teen’s symptoms on your own. Get the help you need from a professional who knows what to do. You can also reach out to other adults you trust to discuss your worries and concerns.
Seek Help as Soon as Possible: Half of those who develop mental illnesses show their signs as early as 14 years old. And, 75% of those who experience mental illnesses experience their symptoms by the time they are 24. There are early signs that indicate whether a mental illness is in its development. It doesn’t hurt to have your child assessed.
Educate Yourself: Become somewhat of an expert on the disorder your teen experiences so that you’ll know what to avoid, what to take on, and how to better your teen’s life.
Don’t Give Up: As you and your teen progress through the stages of recognition, assessment, diagnoses, treatment, and recovery, there will likely be many challenges and unknowns to face. In the course of it all, you might feel like you want to throw your responsibility out the window, you might hand over your instincts and knowledge to a professional whom you trust only to be disappointed. Whatever the challenge, don’t give up. Your teen’s well being is much too important.
Because your teen needs your help, it’s best to gather the best resources you have available. Stay calm and take good care of yourself. Mental illness is nothing to be afraid of. It’s an illness, like any other, that needs attention, care, and tenderness.