According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses develop by the age of 14, and 75% develop by the age of 24. This highlights the importance of addressing adolescent mental health issues early on so as to prevent them from becoming more severe in adulthood.

However, recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health challenges isn’t always easy, and this is especially true for adolescents. With teenagers going through so many changes, it can be difficult for parents to know if or when to take action to support their teen struggling with mental health.

Signs of Mental Illness in Teens

Teenager mental health signs and symptoms can manifest in different ways. However, common signs of declining mental health to look out for may include:

Changes in behavior

If your teenager is experiencing mental health issues, you may begin to notice changes in their behavior. They may become more withdrawn, lose interest in activities they once enjoyed or have difficulty concentrating in class or at home. They may also become more irritable or aggressive and appear to be more impulsive.

Changes in sleep patterns

Mental health issues can also affect a teenager’s sleep patterns. They may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or even experience frequent nightmares. On the other hand, a common sign of poor mental health may also include sleeping excessively or having difficulty waking up in the morning.

Changes in eating habits

Eating habits can also be affected by mental health issues. Your teenager may experience a loss of appetite or overeat as a way to cope with their emotions. They may also develop unhealthy eating habits, such as binge eating or restricting food intake.

Physical symptoms

It’s also important to take note of the connections between mental health symptoms and physical symptoms. Your teenager may experience frequent headaches, stomachaches or other unexplained physical pains. They may also have a weakened immune system, leading to frequent illnesses.

Changes in school performance

Common signs of poor health also include changes in school attendance and academic performance. Teenagers struggling with mental health issues may have difficulty concentrating, completing assignments or attending school. They may also have a sudden decline in grades or lose interest in school altogether.

Changes in social behavior

Teenagers with mental health challenges may also experience changes in their social behavior. They may become more isolated, have difficulty making friends or have conflicts with peers. They may also have a sudden change in their friend group or lose interest in social activities they once enjoyed.

These changes individually may not signify mental health issues in teens, but their combined presence could suggest a more significant problem.

How to Help a Teenager With Mental Health Issues

If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, it may be time to take action. The following are some ways you can help your teenager cope with their emotions and improve their mental well-being:

Educate yourself

Before doing anything else, it’s important that you take the time to educate yourself about mental health and, specifically, how mental health affects teenagers. By doing this, you can learn more about the challenges people face when going through mental health issues, thus allowing you to better understand your teenager’s struggles and how to support them.

There are many resources available, Canyon Creek Behavioral Health’s blog being one of them, that can give you insight and guidance when it comes to mental health challenges.

Create a supportive environment

One of the first things you’ll learn while figuring out how to help a teenager with mental health issues is that their environment is key. It is important to create a supportive environment for your teenager at home, as this will signal to them that you are there to love and care for them.

Creating a supportive environment may include fostering open communication, setting boundaries and providing a safe space for them to express their emotions.

Listen and validate their feelings

When your teen opens up about their mental health struggles, they are making the choice to be vulnerable around you and include you in their inner world. When this happens, it is crucial that you listen and validate their feelings. Let them know that it is normal to experience a range of emotions, and it is okay to talk about them.

Avoid dismissing their feelings or telling them to “just get over it.” By doing this, you may create a difficult barrier between yourself and your child and it may be difficult for your teenager to feel safe opening up around you in the future.

Show compassion and understanding, even when you don’t fully understand why they feel the way they do.

Encourage healthy habits

Another helpful tip for parents of teens struggling with mental health is to encourage healthy habits.

For example, if you’ve noticed that your teen has become more sedentary and less involved with regular exercise, encourage them to take a walk with you. Or if they’ve been less interested in healthy food, suggest making a balanced meal together.

These activities can strengthen your bond and can help your teenager rebuild healthy habits, thus improving overall mood.

Seek professional help

If symptoms are severe and persistent, it may be time to consider seeking professional mental health help for your teenager. This can include a combination of therapy, family counseling or even medication if needed.

Talk to your doctor to determine whether teen mental health treatment is the best course of action.

Get The Help You Need, Now

Canyon Creek Behavioral Health, of Temple, Texas, is here to help. Our inpatient and outpatient programs for adults and adolescents provide psycho-educational services as part of our comprehensive treatment approach. Our program promotes healing, the development of healthy habits and the implementation of positive coping strategies in your daily routine.

Give us a call at 254-410-1819 or complete this form to get started on your mental health journey today.

If you think your teen is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 988 or get to the nearest emergency room.

For medical emergencies, call 911 or get to the nearest emergency room.

About Canyon Creek Behavioral Health

Canyon Creek Behavioral Health is a facility that services the behavioral health needs of adults, adolescents and older adults. We provide inpatient and outpatient treatment, where we serve people from all backgrounds. Our team of highly qualified and skilled therapists are prepared to meet your individual needs. This includes treating those facing mental health issues and mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and depression.

Here at Canyon Creek we believe it’s possible to live a life of stability and purpose. Some of our services include our adult inpatient program, adolescent inpatient services and more. Located in Temple, Texas, we’re committed to being an active member of the Temple community and improving its understanding of mental health.

To schedule a no-cost, confidential assessment, please give us a call at 254-410-1819 or fill out the form on our contact page here.