A recent study into teens and mental health shows that 1 in 4 teenagers aged between 17 and 19 in England have experienced mental health disorders in 2022 compared to 1 in 6 in 2021 according to an NHS digital report. These statistics highlight that the number of teens struggling with mental health disorders keeps increasing.
There are many reasons why teenagers may experience mental health disorders. For many individuals, they experience things such as public speaking, final exams or going out on a date for the first time in their teenage years which can cause feelings of uneasiness and apprehension. These feelings of uneasiness can develop into different forms of anxieties. Studies also show that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a further negative impact on teens mental health.
It is important to know what the symptoms of a mental illness are and how to help a teenager who is struggling to limit the increase.
How do I know if my teenager has a mental illness?
Mental health disorders can present themselves in various ways in teenagers. It is important to understand the different symptoms to help a teenager when they first start displaying changes in things such as behaviours. The following list highlights some important symptoms to look out for:
- Changes in sleep
- Loss in appetite
- Loss of interest in the things they usually love
- Cancelling plans with friends and family
- Academic struggles that seem different or more intense
- Running thoughts or worries that won’t leave them alone
- Refusing to talk about what’s bothering them
- Obsession with a certain goal, possibly with the belief that if they don’t achieve it, their life will never be the same
- Signs of drug, alcohol or other substance use
- Signs of self-harm
What is the most common mental illness in youth?
The more common mental disorders that can be diagnosed in childhood are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and behaviour disorders
How can I help a teenager who is struggling with mental health?
If you think that a teenager is struggling with their mental health, there are various ways you can help. It is important to keep reminding your teenager to share their struggles with you and remind them that you are always there to help.
1. Encourage them to share how they feel and reassure them that you will not be judgmental.
You can check in with your teenager by asking them about their day or what their plans are. If they do open up with any concerns, you can answer by showcasing that you are understanding.
2. Take the time to support them
Sometimes it is easy to get distracted with our busy everyday lives. Try and incorporate your teenager into doing some at home activities such as cooking dinner together. Not only will it allow you to bond, but it will also create a space where your teenager feels safe to open up about their struggles. You can also take some time to sit together to create a list of things they feel like they are struggling with, so they do not feel like they have to work through them alone.
3. Work through conflict together
Remember that everyone gets stressed and angry which can sometimes get in the way of resolving conflict. Try to discuss issues once the anger has passed by walking away and calming down first. Once both yourself and your teenager feel calm enough to talk, listen to their views and try to sort out the conflict calmly.
With the effects of COVID-19, the number of teenagers who are struggling with mental health conditions is increasing. Being a teenager and the transition from childhood to adulthood can be a very confusing time in teenagers lives as they are faced with more responsibilities and are trying to figure out who they are. If you think your teenager is showcasing any of the symptoms mentioned above, then try encouraging them to talk about their struggles.
If you feel like you need professional help, we are a private mental health hospital in Windsor with nurses on hand 24 hours a day who provide expert clinical treatment. Research has found that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England and we are here to ensure you do not have to face it alone. For more information visit https://cardinalclinic.co.uk/ or call 01753 869755 for help and advice.