How to Support Teens’ Mental Well-Being
Ashley Colleen McIntyre | January 28, 2023
Written by Ashley Colleen McIntyre, exclusive for MIND24-7.com
A report on mental health from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that since major disruptions to their school and social lives in early 2020, teens have suffered from poor mental health. Almost three-quarters of high school students in the U.S. reported experiencing at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) in 2021. ACES can include the loss of a parent’s job, online bullying, dating violence, and many other experiences. With more teens facing persistent sadness or hopelessness, it can be extra challenging for them to deal with their day-to-day lives.
Given these problems, the adults surrounding a teen play a critical role in helping them overcome mental health challenges. With anyone heavily involved in a teen’s life, there is an opportunity to become a role model for their coping and emotional development. Here are some ways to support a teen’s mental well-being:
Create a sharing environment
Teens often face many emotional challenges as part of their lives, such as failing an exam, feeling betrayed by a trusted friend, or being treated harshly by their teacher in front of the class. While it may be easy to tell teens to think positively, these experiences can create mental anguish that is difficult to overcome at a sensitive age.
It is easy to inadvertently make teens feel like their emotions are invalid. Instead, acknowledge their feelings and encourage them to share their issues. One of the best times parents can have these sharing moments is during family dinners.
You can lead by example by sharing your feelings — be it a bad day at work or a similar experience you had in the past. If a teen isn’t in the mood to talk about their problems yet, you can maintain sharing opportunities by showing interest in their life and help form a deeper bond.
Get them proper help
Teens face different stresses in life, including school and relationships, that may affect them negatively. The good news is that they have many options open to them for help, whether they need in-person consultations, advice by phone or text, or even video counseling.
If a teen you know needs immediate help, MIND 24-7 has psychiatric clinics available in Arizona that are available 24 hours a day. Teens can walk in the door in any one of the Arizona locations and will be seen within an average of 20 minutes to talk about any concerns they have.
If a teen needs further treatment but doesn’t want to see a specialist in person, it may be good to have them consult a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner via a remote platform. Most insurance policies now offer virtual mental health options with staff highly trained in remote care, enabling teens to get immediate help in the privacy of their own homes.
In case of an emergency, just dial 988 from any phone to contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for free, 24/7, confidential support. This lifeline helps people in need overcome crisis situations every day.
Work through conflict together
As an adult, it can be frustrating when a teen doesn’t cooperate, even when you do your best to support them. Rather than getting angry and shouting at them, it’s crucial first to walk away and calm yourself down before talking to them about their problems and other conflicts.
Parenting coach Lisa Smith notes that power struggles should be avoided during these discussions, especially since teenagers hate being told what to do. It can be scary not to be in control of situations, so adults should adjust their expectations and be honest and transparent with their teens.
It’s important to give teens a better understanding of the situation and points of compromise. Let them know that you are struggling with stress and feelings too. Make sure they know their emotions are valid and that they have a choice. Through proper reflection and processing, you both can come to a resolution.
While providing support is the best way to help a teen, we encourage parents and caregivers to care for their own well-being as well. By taking extra care of yourself, you will be better equipped to work toward better mental health together.
Author bio: Ashley Colleen McIntyre is a freelance writer, specializing in mental health and education. She enjoys cooking and spending time with her two cats in her spare time.