If your teenager is battling depression or struggling with another mental illness, as parents, you likely will find it hard to come up with ways to help. While you can provide all of the advice and care possible, ultimately it’s up to your teen to begin the journey towards taking control of their situation and truly conquering their illness. If you’re looking for ways to create a support system for your teen to help facilitate this process, keep the following things in mind.
One of the first things you should do to make your child feel supported is to practice open communication with your teen. If your child can’t talk about how feelings and what pressures they’re facing with their own parents, it may be even harder for them to admit that they may have a problem such as depression. For some strategies for open communication you might try speaking with your teen in age-appropriate terms, truly listening to them without distraction, and keeping your conversations brief. Remember that your teen doesn’t want to feel like an interrogation is going on.
It’s also important that you share your own feelings when you talk with your teen. In fact, modeling good behavior can go a long way toward creating a support system where your child understands that it’s OK to talk about the struggles they’re facing. If you can show your teen that it’s perfectly normal to ask for and receive help in situations where you feel over your head, you will normalize this kind of behavior. Only when your teen feels ready to ask for help will they do so, and so it’s vital that they understand that getting help from others is as natural as brushing their teeth each morning.
Getting to know your teen’s friends is another way to ensure that they feel supported. Not only will this show your child that you’re interested in the people they choose to spend time with, it also gives you an opportunity to make sure that negative peer pressure isn’t harming your teen’s situation. Particularly in teens, pressure from others can often exacerbate feelings of depression. It’s important that your children surround themselves with people who are a positive influence and don’t have a history of making trouble.
Encourage your teen to speak with professionals if they truly need help. Depending on the severity of the mental illness, it may be crucial that your teen gets the perspective of a psychiatrist or team of experts to create a strategy that works for them. While some teens appreciate one-on-one talk therapy, others benefit far more from a residential approach such as Polaris Teen Center Depression Treatment.
Another way that teens can feel parental support is by how you engage with their hobbies. Encourage your teen to keep up with any extracurricular activities that they enjoy doing, because many times these types of things are a major component of your teen’s growing identity. At the same time, make sure that you don’t add any unnecessary pressure to what they do.
Did you know that close to 60 percent of teenagers with depression don’t get the help that they need? Part of the reason that this number is so high is because teenagers need to feel supported by their friends, teachers, and family before they can begin such a journey. By practicing open communication with your teen, really getting to know their friends and interests, and modeling good behavior, you can create a situation where your teen feels like seeking professional help isn’t strange or scary. Thus, maintaining a supportive environment for your child can have a major effect on whether or not they ultimately get the help they need.