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How Parents Can Help with Teen Mental Health

Under the direction of Dr. Ramsey Khasho, CHC staff members and other expert contributors provide answers to questions about the serious issue of teen anxiety and depression in our community.
“How Parents Can Help” recommends approaches parents can follow if a child tends to be anxious or is dealing with depression.

How Parents Can Help

1. In this community, if one has a child who tends toward stress and anxiety, what’s the recommended approach to determine whether it’s excessive and requires treatment or is in the “some stress and anxiety is okay” category?

I would recommend paying attention to how stress and anxiety is affecting the teen’s day to day life.  If you or your teen notice that anxiety is affecting their life in a negative way or that anxiety and stress is difficult for them to cope with, treatment would be recommended.  For example, if anxiety is making it harder for them to effectively participate in or feel content at school, extracurricular, social or family activities, treatment would likely be helpful.  Similarly, treatment would be recommended if anxiety is affecting their sleep, mood or outlook and/or if stress and anxiety feels overwhelming to them.  If parents are uncertain about whether treatment would be beneficial, consult with a mental health professional to assist with determining if your teen would benefit from treatment.

2. How do we instill hope and a desire to live in kids that are so depressed that they can’t get out of bed or if they do they are just going through the motions of life, walking around in a dark cloud and slowly watching everything they have loved and worked for slowly slip away and medication isn’t working?

Finding hope is a unique process for each individual and family.  There are a range of strategies that teens and parents can utilize, and each teen is unique in what strategies are effective for him or her.   To give a few examples, for some  teens, connecting with other young people that have struggled with depression, particularly if those young people have seen some improvements in their symptoms, or hearing other young peoples’ stories through videos, such as those on  http://projecturok.org/, can promote hope for the future.  For other teens, planning activities each week they might enjoy as well as having more long term events and activities they look forward to can be helpful in instilling hope.  Other youth gain hope from using their strengths to help others or participating in an activity that provides them a sense of community.  Given that there is such a wide array of strategies and individual responses to these strategies, parents are encouraged to work with their child’s treatment team to help identify ideas that may be effective for their teen as well as approaches for communicating their thoughts and feelings with their teen.

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Other posts in this series:

Teen Mental Health Q&A Introduction
Environment vs. Biology
Middle School Kids Ages 10-12 and Younger
Profile of High Risk Kids
Redefining Success
The Role of Social Media
How Schools Can Help
How Peers Can Help
Other Concerns

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