How to tell if a teen’s behavior is more than the typical teen struggles

With the third year of pandemic life comes an adaptation to routines such as a return to in-person education. This transition can present challenges to teens, who also are in a natural period of self-discovery.

“Everyone is going through adjustments this year, so some anxiety is normal,” said Rosecrance Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tom Wright. “However, if we get through a couple months of this reset and a teen still shows signs of extra stress or anxiety, then we should be concerned about what may be causing those symptoms.”

While teens may naturally act out at times, adults should watch for sudden behavioral changes in a short time. This could be differences in grooming, academics, attitudes, peer groups, or unusual defiance in the classroom.

Empathetic conversations are one of the most important ways adults can help adolescents through struggles. Gentle, open-ended questions can help adolescents work through their feelings. If an adolescent admits to using substances, it may be youthful experimentation, or, as Rosecrance staff often see, use could be a teen’s way to cover the pain of trauma or other mental health issues.

This is where a behavioral health expert can help an adolescent and their family address issues. Rosecrance offers prevention and early intervention programs for those who may be at-risk of more serious issues, while residential and intensive outpatient therapy are offered for adolescents who need extra support. In addition, Rosecrance offers parent and family support groups. Access counselors are available to talk through concerns at any time.