As a parent, it’s always important to look out for any signals that your teen may be running into problems. With most problems, it’s easy to see when something is wrong, such as school grades, injuries, or problems they openly discuss with you — but what about when the struggles relate to mental health?
Mental health problems are not only difficult to pinpoint from an outsider’s perspective, but it may even be difficult for your teen to know that it is a mental health problem they are struggling with.
That’s why looking out for the signs is key, both to help your teen understand, and for you to support them as a parent.
So, what are the signs that your teen may be struggling with mental health problems?
1. Your Teen is Constantly Sad
While sadness and low mood don’t always mean mental health problems, they are a clear indication that something could be wrong — especially if nothing has happened to make your teen suddenly feel very low.
If you notice your teen is rarely happy or smiling these days, if they’re crying more or if they’re generally low, this could be a sign.
2. They Have Withdrawn from Social Situations
This could be locking themselves away, decreased amounts of time with you, or not wanting to socialize with friends. When a person is depressed, one clear sign can be avoidance of being with others and wanting to be alone, so watch out for this sign.
When combatting depression, there is always dedicated help available, such as depression treatment centers.
3. Big Changes in Lifestyle Routine
Mental illness can affect eating habits, hygiene habits and fitness habits. Your teen may have drastically changed from being very active and healthy to avoiding exercise and eating unhealthily, or they may lack any motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle.
As a parent, it’s important to not be overly critical with your teen if they are avoiding healthy habits, as it can be difficult to find the motivation when feeling low — so be sure to be empathetic and find out the cause before labelling them as lazy.
4. Their Schoolwork is Affected
Mental illness can easily be masked, and you may have noticed no serious changes with your teen at home. However, if their education is suddenly taking a hit and you’re being told that they’re suddenly withdrawn or performing badly in lessons, this could be a sign that something else is going on.
5. They’re Irritable
You may find your teen suddenly becoming angry and snappy with you. They may have sudden mood swings or be less positive than they used to be. Mental illness can cause increased irritability.
If you notice any or all of these signs in your teen, be sure to explore the next step. Speak to your teen, support them, and seek out professional help if mental health issues are the cause. Your teen may not seek help themselves, so it’s important as a parent to help them take the first step.