Your child’s overall health depends on the condition of their behavioral, emotional, and mental states. No matter how strong their physical health, they’ll have difficulty realizing their potential without attention to their mental health.
There’s likely no time more important for focusing on mental health than during adolescence and young adulthood. It’s between the ages of 10 to 19 that they form attitudes toward all aspects of their future health care.
Introducing your teen to counseling and therapy provides them with alternatives to less positive ways of self-expression and coping with the often overwhelming experiences of adolescence. Book a consultation with a counselor who specializes in adolescent care at Wellness Road Psychology.
As a parent, understanding the mental health issues teens and young adults face today may be key to recognizing the behaviors that reveal your child’s distress and their unspoken desire for help.
Mental health indicators
People of different ages often have common but separate ways of expressing similar thoughts. Babies are largely non-verbal, grade school children communicate in basic terms, and adolescents may resort to behavioral expression, particularly when they struggle to find understanding of their changing feelings and attitudes.
When your child is in a good place mentally, they demonstrate positive indicators like curiosity, persistence, and self-control. It’s important to recognize and support these traits for reinforcement, since these behaviors tend to support positive activities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most commonly diagnosed mental health issues for children between 3 and 17 are ADHD (about 6 million children), anxiety (5.8 million), behavior issues (5.5 million), and depression (2.7 million).
Despite these numbers, the impact of depression climbs as children get older. For those between the ages of 12 and 17:
- 36.7% reported persistent feelings of hopelessness or sadness
- 18.8% seriously considered suicide, with most of them making a suicide plan
- 15.1% indicated they had a major depressive episode
- Over 4% had some form of substance abuse issue
With this prevalence of sadness, depression, and suicidal thoughts, recognizing mental health crises becomes vitally important.
Warning signs of mental illness in teens
The two key signs that often reveal teens and young adults are in a mental health crisis are falling grades and changing social habits. These make sense when it’s understood that the three major mental illnesses in this demographic are generalized anxiety, social phobias, and depression.
Anxiety may include symptoms of:
- Poor concentration
- Sleep difficulties
- Irritable moods
- Muscle tension
- Out of proportion levels of worry
Social phobias may be revealed by:
- Anxiety ahead of social events
- Fears of being judged
- Avoiding social settings
- Trouble making or keeping friends
- Extreme self-consciousness
- Fear of humiliation
- Easily embarrassed
Signs of depression include:
- Persistent sadness
- Pessimistic outlook
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Unexplained changes in appetite or weight
- Loss of energy and increased fatigue
- Poor concentration
- Uncharacteristic confusion
It may require weeks of symptoms before a doctor makes a medical diagnosis, but you may intuit that something is wrong with your child in a much shorter period of time.
As with many health issues, the sooner your teen’s mental health issues are treated, the better the prognosis. Contact the mental health professionals at Wellness Road Psychology, by phone or online, to arrange a consultation with one of our expert counselors to direct your teen back to a positive path.