“A child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health and deserves the same quality of support. No one would feel embarrassed about seeking help for a child if they broke their arm — and we really should be equally ready to support a child coping with emotional difficulties” (). These words aren’t from a trite public service announcement – in fact, they were spoken by none other than the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton herself. While they may use “boot” to refer to a car trunk overseas, the fact remains unchanged: teen mental health is a worldwide issue that is only now beginning to get the recognition it deserves.
Teen Mental Health: Same in the US as it is the UK
Teen mental health issues are extremely widespread – up to 20% of children in the US suffer from a mental disorder. Although there is a positive trend in recognizing and treating these problems, there is still a stigma attached to having a mental disorder. Too often ADHD is viewed as a fake excuse, or anxiety as a natural part of growing up. To make matters worse, if a teen mental health issue goes unnoticed or ignored early, it can lead to dangerous behavior in the future.
Some warning signs to watch for as a parent, include rapid or inexplicable changes in your teen’s patterns. Among many other potential forms, these changes could include mood swings, different eating or sleeping habits, school performance, shifts in friend groups, or even substance abuse. From a parent’s perspective, the best thing to do to promote teen mental health is to stay positive, supportive, and open. By communicating with your child, you encourage them to tell you if there’s anything wrong; and if your child feels like they can talk to you, they are more likely to seek you out should they be concerned.
If you discover signs of a teen mental health issue in your child – or if you’re simply worried – it is time to consider professional help.