Getting through the teenage years can be tough. It’s a time when lots of changes happen, not just in your child’s body, but also in their feelings and thoughts. It’s a period of learning about themselves, experiencing new things, testing limits, and often, it’s when problems with mental health can start to show up. That’s why it’s really important to understand mental health during these teenage years.
Let’s explore the importance of good mental health in children, especially teens, common mental health issues of teens, and how you as a parent or caregiver can provide support.
Why Mental Health in Adolescence Matters?
Do you remember your own teenage years? The rollercoaster of emotions, the confusion, the pressure to fit in?
The World Health Organization reports that half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age, but most cases are undetected and untreated. These untreated mental health issues don’t just disappear when adolescence ends.
They can have far-reaching consequences, impacting academic performance, relationships, physical health, and even increasing the risk of substance use and suicidal tendencies in adolescents.
This means that understanding and addressing adolescent mental health isn’t just a good-to-have, it’s a must-have. It’s a vital part of ensuring our young ones grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults.
Common Adolescent Mental Health Disorders
Several mental health issues are prevalent in children today. Among them are:
This isn’t just about feeling sad or moody occasionally. It is those persistent feelings of sadness that last for weeks and interferes with the daily activities of your child.
Signs can include irritability, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep patterns, and even thoughts of death or suicide.
These involve excessive worry or fear that is difficult to control and interferes with day-to-day life. This could present as panic disorder, specific phobias, social anxiety disorder, among others.
Adolescents, particularly girls, may struggle with eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder. These conditions involve serious disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating, as well as feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
This condition is characterized by an ongoing pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity that interferes with the functioning or development of the child.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a severe emotional condition that can develop after an individual goes through a shocking, dangerous, or life-threatening event.
Causes of Health Disorders in Children
Mental health disorders in children, especially adolescents, can be caused by a range of factors, including genetics, environmental, and social factors.
Genetics plays a major role in some conditions like ADHD and bipolar disorder. Environmental and social factors such as poverty, abuse, neglect, and trauma can also contribute to mental health problems.
What Can Parents Do to Support Their Child’s Mental Health?
As parents, there are several things you can do to support your child’s mental health.
- Encourage Open Communication: First, create a safe and non-judgmental space for your child to express their feelings and concerns. Let them know that it’s okay to talk about their mental health.
- Promote Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Encourage regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep. These can significantly impact an adolescent’s mental health.
- Teach Stress Management Techniques: Equip your child with the tools to handle stress effectively. This could include mindfulness, relaxation techniques, or problem-solving skills.
- Seek Professional Help When Necessary: If you notice persistent symptoms of mental health disorders such as changes in mood or behavior, difficulty sleeping or eating, changes in appetite, and trouble concentrating, talk to your child’s pediatrician.
Your child’s pediatrician can perform initial evaluations, equip you with tools to manage and promote the mental health of your child and refer your child to a pediatrician for mental health treatment if needed.
Mental Health Treatment in Palm Harbor, FL
At Children’s Medical Center, we have a team of board-certified pediatricians who are committed to offering a comprehensive range of services to children and adolescents, including ADHD screening, immunization, sick visits, telemedicine services, sports physicals, asthma care, nutrition recommendations, and much more.
To learn more about the pediatric and adolescent medicine services or schedule a consultation with one of our exceptionally skilled and trained pediatricians, please contact us at the location nearest to you or use our convenient and easy-to-fill online appointment request form. We look forward to serving you!