Teen’s Mental Health

Life can have challenges for people of all ages – including teenagers. This age can have a lot of challenges from the physical and hormonal changes in their bodies, to the pressures of school, career choices and social status. Some youth can may even be facing serious disorders. A variety of conditions and concerns may prompt you to seek help for your teenage child. Dealing with minors is different from treating adults. In the past, youth were simply perceived as smaller versions of adults. This way of thinking did not contribute to their development, but thankfully psychologist Jean Piaget pioneered child psychology and confirmed that indeed – children and youth think differently from adults. It’s important that parents adapt this way of thinking and consider that their children have different needs based on their age. Youth see the world from another perspective and face many challenges for the first time. In the process of growing up children often have trouble coping at some time (at home, at school, with divorce and separation, with their peers, etc.), or they exhibit behaviours which concern or alarm their parents or teachers. Some teens face more problems than others, depending on their home or school situation, and sometimes due to biological or inherited conditions. Others face psychological disorders that parents may not notice or do not want to acknowledge.

Teens that have been involved in traumatic situations can sometimes be left unable to cope with what just happened. A loss of a close loved one, such as a parent or grandparent, a difficult divorce, natural disasters, and other traumas can all have a tremendous impact on that child or youth’s mental health and overall well-being.

Some issues your teen may be facing today include:

  • Adoption Issues
  • Divorce and separation
  • Communication difficulties
  • Peer pressure
  • Sibling rivalry
  • Extended family difficulties
  • Mixed family Issues
  • Bullying
  • Learning disorders
  • Peer relationships
  • Sexual Issues

Symptoms & Signs of Mental Health Challenges in your Teenager

Emotional symptoms

  • Overwhelming fears of things that are normally not seen as scary
  • Lack of appetite
  • Regressing to a younger, or infantile state
  • Lack of concentration
  • Trouble performing in school
  • False sense of bravado
  • Mood changes
  • Behaviour changes
  • Common emotional symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • A sudden change in marks or performance
  • Damaging behaviour (to self, others or property)
  • Acting withdrawn and uninterested in the world around them
  • Trouble with the law or at school

Physical symptoms

  • Nightmares
  • Lack of appetite or overeating
  • Lack of concentration
  • Headaches
  • Frequent stomach aches
  • Self harm
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Common physical symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • Substance use

When is it time to get help?

If you notice your teen is exhibiting some of the symptoms listed above, and their daily activities are being affected, or if you notice mood or personality changes, see their marks suddenly drop or a decline in their performance on sports teams or at other activities, are alerted by a teacher or coach’s concerns, or if your child just seems to be “off’ it may be time to seek help.

Treatment methods for children and youth

  • Art Therapy (all ages) allows children and youth to use their imagination to explore their feelings and thoughts and to visually express those thoughts and emotions. Young people, when their motor skills exceed their verbal skills, get more out of art therapy than talk therapy alone. Like Play Therapy, Art Therapy is a form of non-verbal communication that allows children and youth to express themselves.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most recommended form of counselling for depression. CBT is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how your thoughts, emotions and beliefs influence your behaviour. These sessions will help you understand which behaviors and thoughts are unhealthy, and ways to realistically remedy these issues. The sessions also help you cope with the symptoms, allowing you to gain a more positive perspective on life. This change also relieves the depression symptoms, particularly feelings of anger, worthlessness, and sadness.
  • Mindfulness Therapy combines cognitive behaviour therapy with meditation techniques. It was originally used to treat depression, it has shown to be effective in the treatment of other conditions as well, such as addictions, and other mental health concerns. Clients use mindfulness techniques to interrupt thoughts and automatic body processes (sleep disturbances, for example). This type of therapy helps clients to see that their thoughts can become their reality and they are taught how to disengage from negative thoughts and thought patterns.
  • Psychotherapy is a broad term that encompasses numerous styles of therapy and employs 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. As the therapist creates dialogue, you are able to learn more about your moods, behavior, feelings, and thoughts. Understanding these factors helps you to control your life and handle certain situations healthily.

What will my teenage child get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?

Getting to the root of the issue is the first step in helping your child work through the stressors, challenges and/or traumatic situations they may be experiencing. An evaluation by one of the licensed therapists at Insight Psychological will be done to determine the best types of therapy for your child. Our psychologists also treat youth after traumatic events. If your  teen has just lost a parent or family member, or has been abused, it is advisable to have them see a psychologist. Professional help will allow them to process the traumatic event, and transition into the new changes in their life.