While everyone goes through major changes in their teenage years, there may come a point when your child needs professional help. Issues such as chronic anxiety and depression will negatively impact their quality of life, relationships, and physical health. Here are some steps you can take to catch the signs of a mental health disorder early and find your child the proper treatments.
Identifying the Warning Signs
Unfortunately, many of the side effects of mental health disorders can be attributed to a teenager’s changing hormones, and that makes it difficult to identify these issues. As a general rule, parents should be wary of any changes to a child’s actions or behavior that do not seem to go away. Some of the most common signs of a mental health disorder include withdrawal, apathy, appetite changes, sleep changes, violent behavior, rapid mood changes, and illogical thinking.
Approach Them Carefully
When it comes to mental health, many teenagers are naturally defensive. Parents must approach their children carefully and in a non-threatening manner. Instead of telling your child they need to be fixed, you should inquire about their feelings and suggest they might need guidance to work through those emotions. If they are still being unreceptive, then you should speak with a trained professional such as a social worker or counselor.
Contact a Social Worker or Counselor
Many schools now keep social workers on their staff who have been trained to work with teenagers who are struggling with mental illnesses. Even if your school does not have a social worker on their staff, they should still be able to direct you toward a mental health professional. At first, you will most likely meet with the social worker who has earned an online MSW degree without your child. During that meeting, you can discuss your concerns and receive tips on how to best approach the situation.
Consider Your Long-Term Treatment Options
Treating a serious mental illness is a complicated process that can take years. Most teenagers benefit from a combination of treatments including counseling and therapy. They might also need prescription medication that balances their hormones and stimulates the production of serotonin, endorphins, and other vital compounds.
No matter what style of treatment you decide on, it is vital that you are there to support your teenager at all times. In order to overcome their illness, they will need caring family members who are willing to make sacrifices on their behalf.