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5 Keys To Talking To Your Teen About Their Mental Health

Teen Mental Health

Being a teenager in the world today is tough terrain to navigate. Our kids are dealing with a world on the brink of collapse, an increasing pressure to grow up before they’re ready, an uncertain future. It should come as no surprise that many teenagers today struggle with their mental health. As a parent, one of the most important things we can do is to have open, honest conversations with our children about their mental well-being. But how do you start that conversation? Here are five simple yet powerful tips to guide you through.


Take a Breath


Before we dive into these tips, take a second to recognize that talking about mental health with your teen might feel uncomfortable at first. That’s totally okay! Feeling unsure or a little nervous means you care. You want to approach the topic in the best way possible. Having all the answers isn’t the objective here. It’s about showing your adolescent that you’re there to support them, no matter what challenges they may be up against. So take a deep breath, trust in the strength of your relationship, and know that your willingness to engage in these discussions is a crucial step towards nurturing your teen's emotional well-being. Let's explore these five keys to talking to your teen about mental health.


  1. Build Trust Through Listening

“Trust is hard-earned, easily lost, and difficult to reestablish.” Trust is also the key to nearly everything. When talking about sensitive topics like your teenager’s mental health, it is crucial that they feel they can trust you. Start by creating a safe space where your teen feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. Listen actively without interrupting or judging. Let them know that you're there to support them, no matter what.


  1. Learn Together

Remember when we said it’s not about having all the answers but about being there to love and support? Mental health is a complex and multifaceted topic. You’re not going to be an expert on it. That doesn’t mean you can’t still have meaningful conversations. Take the time to educate yourself about common issues faced by adolescents, such as anxiety, depression, and stress. There are plenty of reliable resources available online, including articles, books, and podcasts. Learning together not only strengthens your bond but also shows your teen that you're invested in their well-being. Admitting you don’t know everything can equal the playing field between you and your child making them feel more confident about opening up. 


  1. Show Empathy & Understanding

You were a teenager before. Try to step back in time and remember what it was like. Imagine the world through their eyes. Adolescence is a rollercoaster of emotions, and it's essential to validate your teen's feelings, even if you don't fully understand them. Try to avoid minimizing your teens' experiences. Keep phrases like, “you’ll get over it” or “it’s just a phase” to yourself. While their fears and concerns may seem silly to you, they probably feel extremely real and pressing to your teen. Offer empathy and reassurance that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. Let them know that you’re there for them no matter what.  


  1. Encourage Healthy Coping Strategies

A sure fire way to exacerbate teenage mental health issues is to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs, alcohol, self-harm, or an eating disorder. Assure your teen that the ups and downs of life are normal and encourage them to explore self-care activities. Lead by example through regular exercise, breathing and mindfulness practices, or journaling.  Help them find activities they enjoy and remind them that taking care of their mental health is just as important as taking care of their physical health.


  1. Normalize Asking for Help

Asking for help is hard. Break down the barriers to seeking help by normalizing the idea of talking with a therapist, counselor, or friends and family. Let your kid know that it's okay to ask for help when they need it and that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Offer to help them find a therapist, counselor, or adolescent treatment program where they feel comfortable opening up, and remind them that they're not alone on this journey. 


Keep the Conversation Going


Starting conversations about mental health with your teen can feel intimidating, but it's a crucial step in supporting their overall well-being. The most important thing is to let your teen know that you're there for them, no matter what.

If you have a son or daughter who’s struggling with their mental health may need some additional support, call Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center today. We’re a family run program that has first hand experience with the struggles teens experience. We’re here to help your family get their child back, better.