Supporting a Teen with Mental Health Issues

Supporting a Teen with Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues are common among young Australians, with a health survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that in 2020-2021, almost 19% of people aged 15 to 24 had anxiety, and approximately 14% were battling depression.

As stated by Patrick McGorry, Professor of Youth Mental  Health and the University of Melbourne, mental issues ranging from anxiety to eating disorders arise in puberty and tend to peak when people are in their 20s. As teens get ready to move out of their home, live independently and begin to forge their identity, find partners, and choose their professions, they can be subject to stress from a wide array of areas.

As a parent, how can you help your child get over this rocky period, so they are able to deal with stress with greater flexibility and resilience?

Encouraging Your Child to Embrace Natural Yet Powerful Stress-Busting Techniques

Numerous studies have shown that holistic techniques such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and Tai Chi reduce levels of stress hormone, cortisol, to a significant extent. These activities also enhance focus, lift energy levels, and encourage a more positive mood—all of which can be handy to your child in their school and social life alike. Nature is another powerful healer. One study by Drexel University researchers showed that spending just 10 minutes in a green setting is enough to pulverize stress and lift the mood. You should therefore encourage your child to find at least 10-to-15 minutes to spend time in a park or other green or blue area, to enter a more peaceful, positive state.

Teaching Your Child Useful Practical Skills

If your teen child is about to move home, you can help them feel more confident about their ability to negotiate the practical aspects of life, by teaching them vital life skills like financial literacy. Studies indicated hat around 28% of teenage boys and 15% of teenage girl in Australia are ale to pass a financial literacy test. This is a worrisome statistic considering the fact that as soon as your child leaves home, they will be responsible for everything from loans to bill payments. Key financial skills teens should know include interest rates, credit, mortgages, budgeting, saving, and superannuation. Children should also know about their duty to lodge a tax return if they earn over the $18,200 tax threshold.

Encouraging Social Interaction

Encourage your child to meet friends and take part in fun activities such as sport and outdoor adventures. It is important for your child to have people they can talk to and sometimes, they can feel more comfortable talking to other teens than to adults. Let your child know that their friends are welcome in your home and create a comfortable space where they can relax, listen to music, and play their favourite games. 

Knowing When to Opt for Psychotherapy

Be vigilant for signs your child may need help from a professional therapist. If their symptoms are interfering with their ability to study, or if they are prolonged or severe, your child may benefit from attending counselling sessions. Professional therapists have a host of useful tools at their hand, and may prescribe a therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which enlightens people on the vital link between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. A therapist can encourage your child to change a specific behavior, for instance, and take note of the effect it has on the way they think or feel about a person or situation. In time, your teen child can learn to adopt healthy strategies when stressful moments or situations arise.

Mental conditions such as anxiety are common among Australian youths. Teens can face various challenges as they get ready for life as independent adults. Parents can help by encouraging teens to adopt healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. They should also be vigilant for signs that their teen could benefit from professional counselling.

This article was kindly written and contributed by Jennifer Dawson.

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