As a parent, it can be daunting to navigate through the tumultuous teenage years. It is a time of great emotional, physical, and mental change, and it can be difficult to understand how to best support your adolescent through these changes. One of the most important ways to help promote positive mental health in adolescents is to support them in creating a secure, trusting environment in which they feel comfortable seeking help and discussing their feelings. With the right guidance, parents can teach their children how to better manage their emotions, build strong relationships, and practice healthy habits that can lead to a happier, healthier life as they transition into adulthood.
The importance of mental health in adolescents
Every person experiences mental illness differently, but when left untreated, mental health issues can have a significant negative impact on every aspect of life, including relationships, career success, and financial stability. Mental illness is incredibly common, affecting approximately one in every five adolescents. There is no singular cause of mental illness, and it can occur in conjunction with a wide variety of factors, including genetics, trauma and abuse, mental health history in the family, substance use, and environment. Early recognition of mental health issues and treatment is critical for preventing long-lasting and significant mental health problems as well as increasing the likelihood of a full recovery. Parents can play a pivotal role in helping their children navigate the teenage years with positive mental health.
The role of parents in promoting positive mental health
Parents can play a large role in identifying and supporting their children in the early stages of mental health issues. First and foremost, parents must create a safe and secure environment in which their adolescent feels comfortable talking about their feelings and receiving help when they need it. Parents can do this by setting aside time to really listen to their child, not jumping to conclusions, and asking open-ended questions to understand their child’s perspective. Engaging in positive and open communication with your child can also help them learn to regulate their emotions, build positive relationships, and make better decisions. Adolescents often turn to their parents as a confidant, so it is important to be open to listening to your child and providing support. Additionally, parents can support positive mental health in their adolescent children by encouraging them to pursue healthy habits such as regular exercise, diet, and getting enough sleep.
Creating a safe and secure environment
Creating a safe and secure environment is an important part of helping your child build the confidence they need to open up to you and seek help when they need it. Your adolescent will likely experience challenges during their teenage years, such as the death of a loved one, challenges in a relationship, or stress at school or work. It is important to be mindful of your words when your child is experiencing challenges that may trigger anxiety or depression. Be careful to not make assumptions about what your adolescent is going through and always listen to them with an open mind. Avoid criticizing your child’s actions and always approach them with empathy. If your child is self-destructive or abusive toward others, seek professional help immediately.
Teaching emotional management skills
It is important to encourage your adolescent to explore their emotions and learn to identify and understand their feelings. There are many creative ways to do this and a wide variety of tools available to parents and adolescents that can be helpful in this process. Some common tools include journaling, mindfulness, art, and music. By encouraging your adolescent to explore their feelings in a healthy way, they can gain a better understanding of their emotions, which can help them better regulate their feelings and make sound decisions when they are experiencing heightened emotions. Exploring emotions with your child can be a great way to open up a dialogue about how they are feeling and what challenges they are experiencing. It can also be an opportunity for you to share positive coping skills you have learned over time that have helped you through your own challenges.
Building strong relationships
A strong relationship with your child can help them navigate the challenges of their teenage years, and it can also be a powerful tool in identifying and treating mental health issues. Your adolescent will likely turn to you in times of stress or when they need help, so it is important to make sure your relationship is strong enough for them to feel comfortable doing so. Having open and honest communication with your child is an important part of building a strong relationship. This can include sharing what you have learned in your life and imparting advice that has helped you overcome challenges in your life. When your adolescent is struggling, you can also help them build their confidence by validating their feelings and allowing them to express their emotions without judgment. Your child should know they can turn to you whenever they need help, and you should make sure to take any opportunity to make them feel loved and supported.
Practicing healthy habits
While mental health issues are incredibly important to be aware of and treat, it is also important for parents to teach their adolescent to practice healthy habits that can promote a positive mental health, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep. While many mental health conditions are treatable and can be managed, some are lifelong conditions that require a person to make drastic changes to their life to stay healthy. There are many things parents can do to help their adolescent make healthy choices, including setting an example and being open to trying new activities and diets in order to help their child find healthy habits they enjoy. It is also important to be aware of medications prescribed to your adolescent, as some can have negative interactions with certain foods and activities.
Seeking professional help
As a parent, it is easy to want to try to solve every problem your adolescent faces on your own, but it is also important to recognize when it is time to seek professional help. There can be a wide variety of factors that contribute to mental health problems, including genetics and environment. It can also be difficult for adolescents to recognize their own mental health issues, even if they are severe, so it is important for parents to watch for signs that their child may be struggling. If your adolescent is struggling with mental health issues, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. There are many treatment options available for mental health issues, including therapy and medication, and it is important to find a treatment that works best for your child.