How to tell if your teen is in need of help

Young people may exhibit certain signs when they're feeling down.
Young people may exhibit certain signs when they're feeling down. Vagengeym_Elena

DO YOU know what signs to look out for when it comes to teen mental health?

Are you worried about the level of stress they're experiencing at school?

So what can you do to identify a mental health concern with your teen and what action can you take to support them?

How to identify a mental health issue

Having a supportive relationship with your teen enables you to have a positive impact on their life and reduces their likelihood of having a mental health concern.

It also may help your teen be open about their troubles so you can offer the right support before bigger concerns occur.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to communicate with teenagers and many parents worry because they don't know what's going on in their lives.

So what signs do you look for when the communication channel is not strong?

  • They just seem down in general and lack a positive attitude
  • They're having trouble coping with everyday activities
  • Sudden changes in their behaviour and often for no obvious reason
  • They're having trouble eating or sleeping or even constant physical pain
  • A drop in school performance, or suddenly refusing to go to school, TAFE or work
  • Avoiding friends or social contact with others
  • Aggressive or antisocial behaviour
  • They're anxious about weight, physical appearance, losing weight or failing to gain weight as they grow

What can you do if you see signs of a problem?

If you do see signs of a possible mental health issue, the first thing you should do is talk to your teen. While it can be uncomfortable, it shows your teen you care and that they're not alone.

If you're having trouble starting the conversation, there are ways to make it easier and to encourage your teen to open up.

Show you can relate to what they're going through by stating at the start that even adults have problems they can't sort on their own and that it helps to talk to someone for support.

Also make it clear that it's not unusual for young people to feel worried, stressed or sad and by talking about the problem with them. Lastly emphasise that they're not alone and have your support.

Approach an expert with serious concerns

If you do see these signs then it is a good idea to approach your family's GP. It's preferable to have your teen come with you, but if they won't you should still seek out professional advice.

Your GP can provide a mental health assessment which will help you understand your child's symptoms, identify triggers and if needed provide a referral to a mental health professional for further advice and support.

There is also a 24-hour phone line manned by experts that you or your teen can call - 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 22 55).

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