While we’ve entered a new year, the stress and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic is still present. This time has been difficult for everyone, but especially for teens. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association, of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17, revealed that 43% said their stress levels have increased over the past year. Another study of high school students found that nearly one-third reported feeling unhappy or depressed in recent months. With teen mental health concerns continuing to rise, here are our tips for parents to help support teen mental health.
How to Support Your Teen
This may be an especially difficult time for your teen. The pandemic has contributed to more isolation and less opportunities for them to gain gradual independence, which is common during adolescence. There are several signs that your teen may be struggling with their mental health. Some signs include changes in sleep habits, loss of interest in usual activities, major changes in academic performance, appetite changes, or elevated moodiness. If you are noticing any of these changes among your teen, we recommend these tips to help support your teen:
1- Have Weekly Check-ins with Your Teen
Create a designated weekly check-in with your teen at a convenient time, like on a drive to the store or during dinner time. Encourage them to share how they are feeling and offer to talk with them through their concerns. This will help give us insight about how we can best support our teen directly. Maybe they need more help with school, or are wanting to find more creative ways to connect with their peers safely. Or perhaps they just need a bit of space and independence. Remember to really listen to your teen and remind them that you are there for them. Sometimes just offering supportive words can make a big difference.
2- Work Through Challenges Together
If you and your teen are having more conflict that usual, address your concerns directly and kindly to your teen. Work through the tension together to come up with solutions that are beneficial for both of you. Be honest and transparent, but also try to not lash out and try to manage any anger or frustration you may be feeling.
3- Be Curious About Their Interests
Sometimes teens may simply want to be acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts or their unique interests. Try to make a conscious effort to express curiosity in your teen and what they are involved in. You could even find a way to get involved with them and join in on their interests. This can help you form a deeper bond with your teen and give you both something fun to focus on during this difficult time.
4- Help Your Teen Find Support
If you are lending support to the best of your ability and you still are concerned about you teen’s mental health, consider talking with them about seeing a therapist. At Eugene Therapy, our therapists focus on creating a healthy environment and making teenagers feel heard as they verbally work through what’s happening in their lives.
5- Remember to Take Care of Yourself
Your mental health is just as important as your teen’s mental health. If you are feeling stressed as a parent, remember to still take time to practice self-care. It’s still important to make time for your relationships, and devote your attention to relaxing and attending to your own wellbeing. You can also seek support through therapy if you are feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of parenting. Our compassionate counselors will listen to you and support you along the way.