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How to help a teen struggling with the mental health

Educational Resources

As a parent, you want what’s best for your teen. If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, you may be struggling to find answers about the best course of action. Where can you turn? And how do you talk to your child about something so difficult and personal?

Recognize the Signs

Mental health struggles in teens can be serious, even if the symptoms are subtle or sporadic. It’s important to recognize symptoms of poor mental health so you can address the problem as early as possible.

  • Withdrawing from friends or activities they once enjoyed
  • Recurrent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or dread
  • Declining grades
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased irritability or mood swings
  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Thoughts of suicide*
  • Self-harm or harm to others*

Parents should be extra alert to these signs and symptoms during periods of transition (such as a family divorce or new home), trauma (like bullying or a natural disaster), or the loss of a loved one.

Start a Conversation

Often, the best way to tell if your teen needs help improving their mental health is to start a conversation. Communicate honestly and openly with your child about mental health and leave the doors open for an honest response.

The most important thing is to actively listen to your teen. Teens often struggle to share their emotions and problems with parents, so it’s important to let them know that you are here to support them. Avoid:

  • Responding out of anger or defensiveness.
  • Using harsh, negative terms to describe mental illness, like “crazy.”
  • Minimizing their thoughts or feelings.
  • Making excuses or casting blame.

Ask teens whether they have considered what they may need to get better. Remind them that struggling with their mental health is common and treatable.

Seek Treatment

Early intervention can help your teen live a healthier life. Specialized, confidential counseling and treatment is available.

Rosecrance has been caring for the needs of teens for over 100 years. We offer both inpatient and outpatient services. Get started today. Call 866.928.5278.

*If someone is in danger of harm, call 9-1-1 immediately. For urgent matters, Rosecrance is available 24/7 for adolescent and teen services through our CARES crisis line at 1-800-345-9049. Anyone struggling or in crisis are encouraged 988. 

Get Help Now (866) 330-8729