Children & Youth 13 to 15 Years
Teenagers often get labelled as sulky, moody, and very difficult to get along with. This may be true in some cases but it’s also true that they are going through a challenging time. Hormones are potentially wreaking havoc in their bodies as they develop and mature. They may be experiencing crushes for the first time and the challenges that area brings (“do they like me too?”). They may be wrestling with their self-image and are usually hypercritical of their changing appearance. Often, they want to fit in with their peers but are also trying to figure out who they are. They’ve left behind elementary and are adapting to a new school system and the changes and expectations that brings, including more complex learning and tests with higher stakes. Teens may be at a disadvantage due to a learning or developmental disorder and may be experiencing a mental health disorder. Events and circumstances outside of school also have a significant impact on a child’s mental health and wellbeing if they are impacted by trauma, abuse, anxiety, grief, and depression.
Reasons teenagers may face mental health issues
- Struggling with learning in school
- Struggling socially with friends
- Puberty and the hormonal changes that can affect emotions
- Self esteem issues – gaining weight, not gaining enough weight, not developing typically
- High anxiety about performance in school, teams, or other pursuits
- Relationship issues with their romantic interest
- Death of a parent, sibling, grandparent, or other close family member
- Divorce or separation
- Death or loss of a pet
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Gender identity or sexuality
- Extreme poverty and/or food insecurity
- Developmental disorders (ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, etc.)
- Mental health disorders (anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, etc.)
Teens in this age group can experience these events and situations but may have difficulty fully understanding and processing them or expressing themselves and their emotions.
Child and youth therapists are specially trained to work with teenagers. They communicate and relate to the youth on the youth’s level and help them to express themselves in ways that are appropriate for teenagers.
Symptoms & signs of mental health issues in teenagers
- Mood changes
- Trouble performing in school or extracurricular activities
- Behaviour changes
- Damaging behaviour (to self, others, or property)
- Disruptive behaviour in school
- Acting withdrawn and uninterested in the world around them
- Regressing to a younger state
- Overwhelming fears of things that are normally not seen as scary
- Persistent sadness
- Common emotional symptoms of anxiety or depression
- Talking about suicide
- Substance use or abuse
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of appetite or overeating
- Inability to concentrate
- Frequent stomach aches
- Changes in sleeping habits
When is it time to get help?
Like most mental or physical health issues, it’s always better to seek help sooner rather than later. This is especially true in youth who are exhibiting signs of mental health issues or are suspected of having developmental or learning disorders. It’s important for parents to learn how to deal with their children’s issues and how to best support their child. If you’re finding that your child’s behaviour or moods seems different, such as more frequent or severe emotional outbursts, they’re significantly withdrawn, you notice are being ostracized by their friends, you have concerns about their choice in friends, their behaviour is causing turmoil in the family, their teachers are expressing concerns about their behaviour in school, or your child is experiencing the symptoms listed above, it’s likely time to seek help – especially if they’ve recently suffered a traumatic event.
Treatment methods for mental health issues in teenagers
There are various treatment methods that are effective for teenagers, depending on what they are experiencing or what situation they are facing. Your therapist will determine the best treatment for your child’s individual circumstances. They include:
- Acceptance and commitment therapy encourages clients to accept the difficulties and misfortunes of life. Clients learn coping techniques to not dwell on negative emotions by staying in the present.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Psychotherapy is a broad term that encompasses numerous styles of therapy and uses verbal or nonverbal communication with a client to help treat psychiatric problems, behavioral issues, personality disorders, and various other types of emotional distress. This form of personal counselling is based on an interpersonal relationship, as opposed to the alternative chemical or physical forms of therapy.
- Client centered therapy (Rogerian therapy). Developed by Carl Rogers, this focus of therapy views the therapeutic process and progress as ultimately based on the accomplishments of the client and only psychologically aided by the therapist.
- Mindfulness therapy is an approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves, others, and the world. The ability to be in the moment, to acknowledge and regulate your emotions helps you to break free from negative thought patterns.
Treating children this age may involves parents. Effective treatment methods include:
- Family systems therapy looks at the family as one emotional unit. This therapeutic approach looks at the relationships within the family and the structure as a whole.
- Structural family therapy involves looking at the structures within the family unit. Changing the underlying structure tends to cause a ripple effect on the family. This therapy analyzes the hierarchical structure, subsystems, and boundaries within the family.
Your therapist may also recommend couples counselling if there is stress in your relationships that is affecting your child, or your child’s mental health issue is causing your relationship stress.
What will we get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Insight can assist you and your teenager as you both navigate through mental health issues. We can work to get to the root of the problem that your child is facing and provide you with parenting tools that will support your child to express and process their feelings in a healthy way. We can offer assessments to help with diagnoses for developmental or mental health disorders and then support you in managing those disorders.
Please contact us to learn more about our services for children and youth.