Mental Health Issues in Teens: Things to Beware of

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Your kid’s broken knee is easy to learn about and mend. But, is it the same with their mental health? Are you aware that behind all the stubbornness, selfishness and moodiness hides the underlying mental health issues? Some parents are not aware that these signs mean their child is silently raging a war against their inner demons. Others do not bring these signs to a psychiatrist’s attention just to avoid their child being called ‘crazy’ by society.

All in all, your kid’s mental health is negatively affected. It starts deteriorating day by day. It is not right for parents to ignore or not know about what their child is going through. Studies show that there are about 50 million Indian children who show signs of mental illness and suffer from various mental disorders. This is enough to open our eyes to the gravity of the situation.

Mental Health Issues in Teens

On that note, we must understand that every adolescent undergoes a lot of changes physically and mentally owing to their age and developmental stage. Many factors affect them and are likely to cause mental illness. Learning these factors and signs can help parents guard their child against succumbing to mental diseases. This World Mental Health Day, let us learn our children’s growing mind.

Factors Affecting a Child’s Mental Health

Right from the birth of an individual, their mind starts learning to cope with the surroundings. For this reason, the environment in which a child grows is of utmost importance in shaping the mind. Let us dig into the factors that affect a child’s mental health.

1. Break-up or Loss of a Family Member

To a child, their parents are the world. Losing them or a parent getting divorce can harm their minds. Coping with the loss is hard for young minds and they succumb to negativity easily.

2. Physical Illness

Some kids face physical illness or contract diseases at an early age. Conditions like birth trauma, brain injury, loss of hands or feet to an accident make a child incapable of doing normal day-to-day activities. This paves the way to inferiority complex and negative effects on confidence level leading to mental illness in children. 

3. Abuse

When the child’s parents are abusive, the mind of the child is negatively influenced. Abuse can be in any form like verbal, physical, sexual, or even psychological. This leads to the child grow with lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, isolation, depression and anger. 

4. Poverty and Homelessness

If a child’s parent is poor and unable to take care of the wishes of the child, the child starts feeling left out in the friends’ circle. This will eventually lead to sadness and loneliness for being left alone. 

5. Discrimination

If the child is being compared to other siblings at home or compared to other overachieving kids and gets bullied at school, they will come under a lot of pressure. They slowly develop low self-esteem and lack of confidence leading to mental illness. 

6. Trauma

If your child has experienced a serious trauma like a near-death experience, it is hard to come out of it. The events stay in mind eating the peace away. Slowly, your child will succumb to the mental illness you have been dreading about.

When you know your child has faced any of the above factors, it is best to get medical attention immediately. This will stop the mental illness from aggravating into more complicated problems. If you have no idea about the factors, you might want to look for signs that suggest there is mental trouble in your kid.

Also Read Mental Diseases in Today’s Youth

Signs of Mental Illness in Teenager

When your child is silently suffering from mental illness, they tend to show some signs that you must catch to heal them on time. Mending a kid before the symptoms aggravate is easier. If you leave it untreated, the complications will grow to take the form of mental diseases like Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Dementia, Personality Disorder etc.

Symptoms of Mental Illness

A prominent psychiatrist William M. Klykylo who is a professor and director at Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio suggests that a mentally ill child’s behaviour changes with age. They tend to show different signs that a parent has to catch before they grow up. It may start at preschool. 

Let us go through the prominent signs you cannot miss noticing in your child who is suffering from mental illness. 

Signs of mental trouble in preschool:

  • Behavioural trouble in daycare or preschool
  • Trouble in falling asleep
  • Sleep is interspersed with disturbing nightmares more frequently than normal
  • More active than any other kids in the school
  • Excessive crying, worrying or fear
  • Aggressive behaviour that is, hurting other playmates and even animals
  • Uncontrollable temper tantrums
  • Anxiety when separated from parents

When your child progresses into school, they may have a couple of friends. But Klykylo says that the number of friends is not what you have to look at, you must pay attention to how long the relationship lasts. If it breaks soon, then there is trouble. Let us look at other symptoms that may suggest mental sickness. 

  • Hyperactivity
  • Extreme worries and fears
  • A sudden drop in the marks in the report card
  • Loss of appetite leading
  • Sudden weight change
  • Constantly worry about weight change
  • Loses interest in their favourite activities and friends
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Stay sad for over a week
  • Use of drugs and other substance abuse
  • Hallucination

As your child grows into its teenage years, the signs of mental trouble become more prominent than ever. You can notice signs like:

  • Destructive behaviour where your kid starts destroying properties or even worse sets fire
  • There is a constant threat of harming themselves
  • Completely isolate themselves from friends and family members
  • Thinks, suggests and writes about harming themselves

You can see how dangerous the situation becomes when your child grows up with mental issues. For this reason, you must learn about all the factors and signs that may lead to mental disease in your child. When you suspect or when someone else says that there is something peculiar about your child, immediately consult a doctor. Explain them your child’s behaviour and asks for suggestions.

What Can You Do to Help Your Child Cope With Mental Issue?

Coping with mental illness is not only strenuous for the teen but the parents as well. There are many ways you can help your kid while they grow up. 

First and foremost, your support is what a mentally disturbed child needs. When they know that their parents are by their side, they will get the confidence they need to withstand any hurdle. 

Your child can be successfully treated with psychotherapy as well. Here, you have to talk to your child. Try to open them up about their feelings. Cross question them so that they can learn more about what they are feeling, how their mood changes and what thoughts are influencing their behaviour. 

  • In the process, it is natural to get angry, frustrated or feel helpless. In those situations, don’t give up on your child. Talk to a mental health specialist about the situation and how you can make it better for your child. 
  • Take some stress management techniques when you think you are losing your mind while handling the stressful situation.
  • Always make sure that you make the environment around your child a relaxing one. 
  • Find ways to have fun with your child. 
  • Make sure you praise their abilities and strengths now and then. 
  • Sometimes help from support groups or family counselling can help you better in understanding your child’s problems.
  • It is best to talk to your child’s school teacher about the mental health condition. This way, both can work together to make school easy for your child. 

If you think nothing is working, medication may be another way. Take your child to a mental health provider. They can look into the condition and suggests some medication program for your child. They may suggest anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, stimulants, mood stabilizers or antipsychotics. 

Also Read Suicidal Thoughts in Cases of Extreme Depression

Dos and Don’ts for the Parents of a Mentally Ill Child

Sometimes we forget what is the right way to handle a stressful situation involving a mentally ill person. To help in coping with mental illness, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has made a complete list of dos and don’ts that are sure to come to your aid when you desperately need it. 

Situations Dos Don’ts
Communication
  • Have a positive attitude and open communication. 
  • Be honest and humorous when needed.
  • Stick to a particular topic at a time.
  • Don’t tease, yell, argue, while dealing with your mentally ill child.
  • Don’t stick to the past while communication. Talk about the present.
Difficult behaviour
  • Accept the illness and give space to your child when needed.
  • Be consistent and predictable.
  • Keep track of the behaviour and look out for warning signs.
  • Don’t take the illness personally.
  • Don’t tolerate any abusive behaviour from your family.
  • Don’t blame your child for the undesirable behaviour of other family members.
Building self-esteem
  • Keep praising your child genuinely.
  • Create short-term goals to work on together.
  • Engage in positive activities.
  • Don’t make all the decisions on your own.
  • Don’t simply ask your child to get over the situation on their own.
  • Don’t call them with names.
Taking care of yourself
  • Educate yourself about your child’s mental condition.
  • Stay in contact with a support group.
  • Talk to those who are dealing with a similar situation.
  • Take one step at a time.
  • Don’t forget that you are not alone in this situation.
  • Don’t let the mental illness in children run your life.
  • Never be your child’s therapist and get the treatment for mental illness from a certified doctor.

To Conclude,

When you think your child is suffering on their own, don’t turn your back on them out of shame or fear. They are in the weakest moments of their life and your support would mean the world to them. Understand their mental health and be supportive. Talk to them and if necessary, provide them with the proper medication plan so that their early mental illness doesn’t affect their adulthood.

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