Mental Health in our Youth Today

There has been talk about the mental health of our children and teens and how it is declining. Over the last 18-24 months, there have been many changes, some of them unexpected or quick. This is hard for many to handle along with other losses being experienced. There may have been events missed last year and continued change this year. There has also been reduced time with friends and peers. All of these changes can make it difficult.

This may cause parents to wonder about how to try to mitigate some of these losses and mental health decline. How do you know if your teen is experiencing mental health concerns? If many children are experiencing the same losses, how do you know which children are feeling this loss more significantly? When do you need to look for additional help for your child? How do you figure all of this out?

Some of this determination is made by parents knowing their children, as they are the expert on their child, and observing their behaviors, which is also different depending on the age of the child. Understanding these differences can be difficult at times so feel free to reach out if confused. This is always a good place to start, but I also have some additional ideas to help make this determination. This list is not exhaustive and it is always important that if you have any concerns to ask questions. I believe it is better to ask questions where there is not as much need for concern instead of not asking when there were bigger concerns that needed to be addressed.

Behaviors to pay attention to:

  • Does your child seem more reserved and keep to themselves more?
  • Is your child responding with more intense behaviors?
  • Have you noticed significant changes in your child’s behaviors?
  • Has your child’s eating or sleeping patterns changed?

Every child and teen responds to change and stress differently so it is important to remember that this will look different for each child. It is important to remember that the change that children are experiencing happened quickly and without much warning. This is tricky for anyone to handle. While it is starting to look like there may be some positive changes happening, there is still uncertainty around when things will go back to “normal” which is again hard for many to deal with.

Talk to your young teen and ask them about how they are feeling. They may not know how to put their feelings into words, but your interest in how they are doing will provide some comfort.

Look into programs that provide near-peer mentoring. Teen Innovators virtual after-school clubs are led by older certified teen mentors that are trained in empathy. If you have any concerns or want more information from a professional, please feel free to visit this website.

The article was written by:

Anne Inwood

Successful Families Together