Talking to Your Teen About Mental Health
Mental health problems have increasingly become more common in young adults and teenagers. As a parent, you’re closer to them than anyone else and will be able to spot the signs of a brewing depression or anxiety before it gets out of hand - even though talking to your teenager about this is certainly not the easiest task.
When they won’t even talk to you about their day, it can be difficult to understand how you are supposed to get through to them about such a personal topic.
Here are a handful of ways to spot the signs of mental health problems in your teen and have a talk with them about it. Even if you don’t feel like the conversation is that successful, just the act of trying could mean a lot on its own.
First: Talk about what you’ve been observing
Making it seem as if you’ve been keeping an eye on them and noticing odd behaviors is certainly not the best way to start this conversation, but pointing out something that worries you may make it a bit better.
Try to focus on what you’ve noticed and why it makes you worried; if they’ve spent a lot of time with their friends and suddenly stopped, this is clearly something any parent would worry about.
By bringing the focus over to how you’re worried about this because you care about them, you’re avoiding any finger-pointing and can start the conversation in a non-judgemental way. Bringing up how it’s normal for teenagers to spend more time with their friends is definitely not the best way to start this as you run the risk of making them a bit defensive.
If you manage to get through the talk in one piece, you could bring up all the benefits of seeing a psychologist to talk about how they feel and make their everyday life a bit easier. Make sure that they know that it will make them feel better, though, and try to not make a big deal out of it.
Next: Listen when he or she talks
Another point to getting the most out of this conversation is that, if your teenager actually does open up to you, it’s important that you stop and listen. Let them talk without any interruptions or questions and ask, in the end, if they have thought about anything they might need in order to feel better.
If they haven’t thought about this, you could always bring in your own viewpoints in terms of a psychologist but remember to follow through with this. Above all, it is vital that you assure your teenager that having a mental health issue is common and that they both can and will get better.
Normalizing it is important as it won’t scare them away from talking to about it again - and you won’t scare them away from talking to a professional about it.
Mental health issues are very common, after all, and if you have noticed any signs in your teenager, it is paramount that you take it seriously and show your kid that you’re there for them.