Updated: May 5, 2020
“Adolescence is a tough time for parent and child alike. It is a time between: between childhood and maturity, between parental protection and personal responsibility, between life stage-managed by grown-ups and life privately held.” - Anna Quindlen, author It may seem like an understatement to say that adolescence is stressful! If you find yourself questioning why your experience as a parent of an adolescent has been so difficult, know that you are not alone. Your child is in a unique developmental stage - one of a delicate “in-between.” You may look back on your own adolescence and remember how stressful it was for you to be in the “in-between” too! Now you are on the other side, wondering how to support your teenager AND keep your sanity. While we cannot change that adolescence is an inherently stressful time for parent and child, we can learn how to help our teens (and ourselves) navigate the “in-between” well. The first step to supporting your teen’s mental health needs is to educate yourself on the differences between typical teenage stress and the warning signs of a mental health disorder. Adolescence brings with it increased demands at school, new social pressures, changes in hormones and bodies, the introduction of romantic relationships, the pressure to develop an identity, and a whole lot more to cram into a schedule. Stress around these topics can be normative and healthy, especially if your teen has a strong support system and well-developed coping skills. However, it is important to be on the lookout for the following indications of mental health disturbance in your teen: Expressing severe agitation, depression, anxiety or hopelessness Changes in sleep, eating or personality Isolation, withdrawing socially Extreme mood swings Risk-taking, destructive behaviors, including substance use and risky sexual behaviors Marked impairment in functioning at school, home or another setting If reading this list felt familiar and “close to home” in terms of what your teen is experiencing, I want you to know that there is help available for your family. The mental health professionals at Beyond Therapy are prepared to help your teen and your entire family system. Please reach out to us if we can be an integral part of supporting your teen’s mental health!
Written by: Shannon Bagnara