Addressing Mental Health Issues For Your Teen: Here Are 5 Warning Signs And Solutions!

Addressing Mental Health Issues For Your Teen: Here Are 5 Warning Signs And Solutions!

As a parent, nurturing your child’s mental health is extremely important. In today’s world, it’s crucial to recognise the subtle warning signs that may indicate your child is struggling mentally. There are various signs that your child’s mental health could be declining, but first, it’s important to understand what exactly mental health in children means.

Mental health in children encompasses their emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It influences how they think, feel, and behave, impacting their ability to cope with stress, form relationships, and navigate daily challenges.

A recent survey reveals that one in five children and young people in England aged eight to 25 likely experienced a mental disorder in 2023. The report titled “The Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2023,” released by NHS England, indicates that 20.3% of 8 to 16-year-olds were identified as having a probable mental disorder in 2023. Among those aged 17 to 19, the figure stood at 23.3%, while in the age group of 20 to 25, it was 21.7%.

Considering these alarming statistics, it’s important to prioritise your child’s mental health and avoid it reaching a distressing level. By prioritising your children’s mental health and equipping yourself with the necessary knowledge and resources, you can proactively tackle any mental health issues in your child’s life, and ensure that they thrive emotionally and mentally.

As a parent, you play a crucial role in recognising and addressing any signs that may indicate your child is struggling emotionally. Understanding these warning signs is the first step towards providing the necessary support and intervention. 

1. Mood Swings And Changes In Behaviour

If your child starts experiencing severe mood swings and sudden changes in behaviour, it is important to pay close attention to them. One common behavioural change to watch out for is social withdrawal. If a child who once enjoyed spending time with friends and engaging in activities suddenly loses interest, becomes withdrawn and isolates themselves, it could indicate feelings of sadness, anxiety, or depression. Similarly, excessive irritability or outbursts of anger that seem disproportionate to the situation may suggest underlying emotional distress.

Mood swings, another key indicator, can also be telling signs of mental health issues in children. While mood fluctuations are a normal part of growing up, extreme and frequent swings from elation to despair or agitation can indicate deeper emotional turmoil. These mood swings may disrupt daily functioning, affect relationships with peers and family members, and impact academic performance.

Parents need to approach changes in behaviour and mood swings with sensitivity and understanding. Rather than dismissing them as typical ‘growing pains,’ taking the time to acknowledge and validate your child’s feelings can foster open communication and trust. Encouraging your child to express their emotions and offering support without judgement can help them feel heard and understood, laying the groundwork for seeking appropriate help if needed. 

Changes in behaviour and mood swings should not be ignored or dismissed lightly, as they can be early warning signs of mental health disorders in children. By staying attuned to your child’s emotional well-being, maintaining open communication, and seeking professional support when necessary, you can help to improve your child’s mental health and overall well-being.

2. Frequent Temper Tantrums

Frequent temper tantrums in children can be a significant indicator of potential mental health issues, and parents must recognise this behaviour as a potential red flag. While occasional outbursts are a normal part of childhood development, persistent and extreme tantrums that occur frequently may signal underlying emotional struggles that require attention and support.

One reason temper tantrums may indicate mental health issues is that they can be a child’s way of expressing frustration, anxiety, or other difficult emotions that they may not have the language or understanding to articulate. These outbursts can be a coping mechanism for dealing with overwhelming feelings, and addressing the root cause of the tantrums is essential for supporting the child’s emotional well-being.

Furthermore, frequent temper tantrums can impact a child’s daily functioning and relationships with peers and family members. Children who experience frequent tantrums may struggle to regulate their emotions, leading to difficulties in social situations and academic settings. These challenges can exacerbate feelings of frustration and isolation, further highlighting the importance of addressing the underlying issues contributing to the tantrums.

Parents play a vital role in supporting their children through frequent temper tantrums by providing a safe and supportive environment for them to express their emotions. You need to remain patient and empathetic, avoiding punitive responses that may escalate the situation. Instead, you can help your child develop healthy coping mechanisms and teach them alternative ways to manage their emotions effectively.

Ultimately, frequent temper tantrums in children can be a sign of potential mental health issues that require attention and support from parents and caregivers. By recognising these outbursts as a form of communication and addressing the underlying emotions driving the tantrums, you can help your children develop healthier ways of coping and navigating the challenges they may face.

3. Difficulty Concentrating

Struggling to concentrate can indicate potential mental health concerns in children, and parents must acknowledge this symptom as a potential warning sign. Although occasional distractions are typical, ongoing and pronounced difficulty staying focused on tasks or activities could signal underlying emotional challenges that require care and assistance.

One reason why difficulty concentrating may indicate mental health issues is that it can be a manifestation of heightened stress, anxiety, or depression in children. When children are grappling with emotional challenges, their ability to concentrate and focus on tasks may be impaired as their minds are preoccupied with worry or negative thoughts. This can impact their academic performance, social interactions, and overall well-being.

Many children achieve low grades at school because their mental health challenges cause difficulty concentrating, which makes it difficult for them to focus on school work and put in their best efforts. In general, children with high levels of attention problems are much more vulnerable to low academic achievement.

Additionally, difficulty concentrating can lead to frustration and feelings of inadequacy in children, worsening their emotional distress. As they struggle to keep up with schoolwork or complete tasks, they may experience a sense of failure or hopelessness, which can further impact their self-esteem and confidence. You must address these underlying emotional issues and provide the necessary support to help their child manage and overcome difficulties with concentration.

As a parent, you can aid your child’s concentration challenges by fostering a conducive environment for concentration within the home and providing practical techniques to enhance focus and attention. This could entail setting up routines, reducing distractions, and breaking tasks down into more manageable segments. Maintaining open communication and offering emotional support is vital in assisting children in navigating feelings of stress or anxiety, empowering them to cultivate healthier coping mechanisms and resilience.

4. Excessive Worrying, Stress Or Fear

Excessive worrying, stress, or fear can serve as clear indications of potential mental health concerns in children, underscoring the importance for parents to identify these symptoms as potential signs of deeper emotional difficulties. 

Each year, more teenagers are struggling with anxiety. Although occasional worry or stress is typical for children, sustained and intense feelings of anxiety or fear may indicate underlying emotional challenges that demand care and assistance.

One reason why excessive worrying, stress, or fear may indicate mental health issues is that they can significantly impact a child’s daily functioning and well-being. Children who are constantly consumed by worry or fear may experience difficulty sleeping, or avoid social situations altogether. These symptoms can have far-reaching effects on a child’s academic performance, social relationships, and overall quality of life.

Moreover, excessive worrying, stress, or fear can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or fatigue. These somatic complaints may be a manifestation of the child’s emotional distress and should not be dismissed lightly. Parents need to take these physical symptoms seriously and consider them as potential signs of a mental health disorder.

Parents can help ease their child’s anxiety by establishing a secure and nurturing atmosphere where their child feels at ease expressing emotions and worries. Encouraging open communication and attentively listening to their child’s concerns can assist parents in comprehending the underlying reasons for their distress, enabling them to offer suitable support and comfort. Moreover, consulting a mental health specialist or therapist can help you tackle fundamental issues and impart effective coping strategies for managing anxiety and fears. 

5. Substance Abuse

The Young People’s Substance Misuse Treatment report’s main finding shows that: 11, 326 young people under the age of 18 were in contact with alcohol and drug services between April 2021 to March 2022 – this represents a 3% increase from the previous year. Nearly half (46%) of young people starting treatment this year said they had mental health issues, which continues the rising trend of the last 3 years (43% 2020 to 2021, 37% 2019 to 2020 and 32% 2018 to 2019). A higher proportion of girls reported a mental health treatment need than boys (60% compared to 38%).

Children who turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of coping with stress, anxiety, or depression may be attempting to self-medicate their emotional pain, highlighting the importance of addressing the root causes of their substance abuse. 

Additionally, substance abuse can aggravate existing mental health issues and lead to a vicious cycle of dependency and emotional distress. Children who engage in substance abuse may experience worsening symptoms of anxiety or depression, as well as impaired cognitive function and academic performance. This can further isolate them from supportive relationships worsening therefore feelings of loneliness and despair, perpetuating a cycle of substance abuse and mental health deterioration.

Practical Tips To Solve Mental Health Issues in Young People.

1. Open Communication

Open communication plays a pivotal role in supporting a child’s mental health. When parents foster an environment where their child feels comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns openly, it creates a sense of safety and trust. 

Building an open line of communication can be challenging, especially when children start distancing themselves. It’s important to reconnect with your child to begin building open communication in your relationship.

This openness allows your child to share any struggles they may be experiencing without fear of judgement or criticism, enabling you to offer support and guidance. Active listening and empathy are key components of effective communication. Additionally, regular communication will help you stay informed about your child’s emotional well-being and identify any signs of mental health issues early to address them promptly.

Open communication also facilitates effective problem-solving in children and helps them discover healthy coping strategies. When children feel heard and understood by their parents, they are more likely to seek help and advice when facing challenges. As a parent, you can offer reassurance, validation, and practical solutions to help your child navigate difficult situations and manage their emotions effectively. By maintaining open lines of communication, you can empower your child to develop resilience, build healthy coping mechanisms, and ultimately thrive emotionally and mentally. 

2. Seek Professional Help

Seeking professional help is a crucial step in supporting a child with mental health issues. Mental health professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, or therapists specialised in working with children possess the expertise to assess and address a wide range of mental health concerns. Through thorough evaluation and diagnosis, these professionals can provide valuable insights into the underlying factors contributing to your child’s struggles and recommend appropriate interventions or treatments.

What’s more, mental health professionals offer a safe and confidential space for children to explore their emotions and develop coping strategies. Therapy sessions provide an opportunity for children to express their thoughts and feelings openly. Through evidence-based techniques and interventions tailored to your child’s needs, mental health professionals can help them develop skills to manage stress, regulate emotions, and improve overall well-being. Seeking professional help not only addresses immediate mental health concerns but also equips children with lifelong tools for managing their mental health and building resilience.

3. Establish Good Routine And Structure

Establishing routine and structure can significantly benefit a child’s mental health by providing stability, predictability, and a sense of security. Consistent daily routines help children feel grounded and in control, reducing feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. By knowing what to expect each day, children can better manage their emotions and cope with stressors, leading to improved overall well-being. Additionally, routines can promote healthy habits, such as regular sleep patterns, balanced meals, regular exercises and dedicated time for relaxation and recreation, all of which are essential for supporting mental health.

Moreover, structure fosters a sense of accomplishment and achievement, which can boost a child’s self-esteem and confidence. When children have clear expectations and goals, they are more motivated to engage in activities and pursue their interests. This sense of purpose and accomplishment can counteract feelings of helplessness or inadequacy that may accompany mental health issues. By incorporating structure into their daily lives, you can provide your child with a supportive framework for managing their mental health and thriving socially, academically, and emotionally.

4. Nurture Supportive Relationships

Nurturing supportive relationships is vital for children facing mental health issues as it provides them with a strong network of emotional support and understanding. Trusted relationships with family members, friends, teachers, and other caregivers offer children a safe space to express their feelings and concerns freely. 

These supportive connections serve as a source of comfort and reassurance during challenging times, helping children feel valued, accepted, and less alone in their struggles. Additionally, supportive relationships provide opportunities for children to receive practical guidance, encouragement, and positive reinforcement, which can bolster their resilience and self-confidence.

Engaging in meaningful exchanges with compassionate individuals allows children to acquire crucial social and emotional skills, including empathy, communication, and conflict resolution. These proficiencies equip them to navigate interpersonal interactions more adeptly and constructively handle stressors. Through cultivating supportive relationships across different areas of your child’s life, you can empower your child to build resilience and adopt strategies essential for managing mental health obstacles. 

At GT Scholars, we are passionate about helping young people to reach their full potential. We do this through various programmes, activities and transforming content designed for both young people and parents to positively impact their children. You can access our programmes and more content like this by visiting our website.

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