Young people face a world of multiple crises and much uncertainty. Studies show that about 13% of people between 10 and 19 have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
It further reveals that young mental health remains understudied and underfunded, which means that effective forms of prevention and treatment are limited.
It also means a lack of solid understanding of what works. Unfortunately, psychological distress among the youth seems to be rising.
Here’s what you need to know about understanding young mental health.
How to Recognise Mental Health Problems
If your teenage child is suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental health, you’re not alone. In fact, the American Academy of Paediatrics has declared youth mental health a national emergency.
Thus, parents and caregivers must know how to recognise mental health issues and determine if the symptoms are only part of social and biological changes or something else.
Note that the mental health symptoms will differ from one person to another. But as a parent, you should have a good sense of whether or not your child is suffering from mental health issues.
Aside from overt symptoms like irritability, mood swings, constant anger, and tearfulness, you can see notable changes in their eating and sleeping habits and weight.
If your child is losing interest in things they usually love and have stopped participating in activities they tend to enjoy, that could be a sign that they are dealing with mental health problems.
Note that having symptoms does not mean a child is experiencing a full-blown mental health crisis. Biological changes and hormonal shifts among teens may also affect your child’s mood and behaviour.
However, if these symptoms are consistent, it’s time that you sit down with your teen for a conversation about mental health.
The Different Types of Mental Health Conditions
With mental health disorders among teens becoming more and more common, parents should be more aware of the different types of mental health conditions teens can have.
Statistics show that mental health disorders in young people are increasing. In fact, more than one in six youths suffer from mental health year after year.
Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental health disorders among 10 to 14-year-olds. It’s important to understand that anxiety disorders are not merely isolated feelings of anxiety – they could affect a child’s everyday life. Some symptoms of anxiety disorders include excessive fear or worry, even when nothing threatening is happening.
Depression is another common type of mental health condition among young people. It’s a disorder involving recurrent and severe periods of thought processes and negative mood changes.
Young adults suffering from depression often feel lonely and hopeless and lack energy or motivation.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD, is another common mental health disorder among young people, typically identified early due to its effects on a child’s behaviour and learning.
Symptoms include inability to pay attention, exhibiting hyperactive and impulsive behaviours, and getting distracted easily.
How to Support with Mental Health Issues
Parents should learn ways to support their children’s mental health just as they did for their physical health.
Undergoing training in Safeguarding may help parents recognise when mental health problems occur and the best way to support them. If you have not undergone safeguarding training, it can be hard to distinguish if your child suffers from mental health problems.
Safeguarding training offers a thorough overview of the various ways in which young individuals can be vulnerable.
One of the most important ways parents can support their child’s mental health is to show unconditional love. Let your kids feel you will always be there for them, no matter what they do.
Your kids should understand that it’s normal to make mistakes and problems are a part of life. Even if you will be disappointed with their poor choices, you should make your child understand that your disappointment will not affect your love towards them.
Another way parents can support their child’s mental health is to give them praise and affirmations. These can help build your child’s self-esteem and confidence.
Several studies show that low self-esteem is one of the reasons behind depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues among young people.
Know the Different Kinds of Treatment for Mental Health
Although seeking the help of a mental health professional is the best course of action when your child is suffering from mental health, parents should also know the different kinds of treatment for mental health in young individuals.
Talking therapy is one of the most common treatments, which requires discussing their feelings, thoughts, and experiences with a professional.
For instance, your child can undergo cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling. Sometimes, your child’s mental health issues may require medication. These are drugs that doctors prescribe to help manage symptoms.
Another treatment to consider for addressing young mental health issues is creative therapy, which may require drawing, music, painting, playing games, and dancing to express thoughts and feelings in the presence of a trained therapist in a safe environment.
Talking with your child constantly is the best way to help them deal with difficult situations and prevent mental health issues. Open communication with your child allows them to freely explore their feelings, which can help them stay mentally healthy.
The Legislation and Guidance around Mental Health
Parents should be aware of the legislation and guidance around mental health. The Mental Health Act strengthened safeguards for vulnerable young individuals by adding a duty to ensure an age-appropriate environment for children and young people.
It covers the rights and treatment of people suffering from mental health conditions, including all children and young people.
The Mental Health Act requires people to be taken to hospital if they need treatment for their mental health conditions. It also gives the young individual a right to appeal against forced detention.
The legislation includes specific safeguards for those below 18 years old regarding mental health treatments, especially for named persons and prioritising the well-being and welfare of children and vulnerable young individuals.