Talking to Your Teen About Mental Health

We provide comprehensive and compassionate mental health and wellness services to children, adolescents and young adults in California, Oregon and Alaska.

Request a consultation
Talking to Your Teen About Mental Health
Talking to Your Teen About Mental Health
Dec 2, 2020

Talking to Your Teen About Mental Health


Mental illness in teenagers is on the rise with common disorders, including generalized anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, social anxiety, and more. Many things can cause mental illness in teens, including stress from school or low levels of serotonin. 

When a teenager is dealing with a mental health challenge, having a sound support system is essential. If you are worried about your teen, it’s a good idea to let them know you are there for them in whatever capacity they need support in. 

Symptoms of Mental Illness in Teens

Symptoms of mental illness in teens can come in many different shapes and forms, though there are some things you can look out for. For example, when it comes to depression, confused thinking, frequent lethargy, and suicidal ideation can all be symptoms. If your child is exhibiting any of these, you should talk to them right away about their mental health. 

Another common mental illness in teens is anxiety. Anxiety can appear in the form of panic attacks, withdrawal from social events, and paranoia. In any case, a mental illness can lead to problems for your child down the line, including self-harm and possible alcohol and substance use.

Medications and therapies are a great way to alleviate the symptoms, but the first step is having a conversation with your child. You know your child better than most people, so if they seem to be acting differently, it may be a good idea to talk to them. 

Starting the Conversation

Talking about mental illness can be uncomfortable for any party involved, which is why you must have your conversation in a comfortable setting. Invite your child to speak to you at a scheduled time and place. This will ensure that you both have set aside an allotted amount of time to talk without being interrupted. A comfortable setting can also ensure that your child has less fear of opening up. Being in a strange place may hinder them from talking about what is going on.

Be honest and share the concerns you have about their recent behavior. Not every child will have the best reaction to your observations, but they need to know that you’ve noticed. You have to understand how overwhelming dealing with a mental illness, along with the everyday stresses of being a teenager, can be. 

Don’t be condescending or judgemental. Everyone has their own perception of suffering, and something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you may be astronomical for your child. When you approach your child with love and care, they may be more willing to open up to you.

While you are likely very concerned about your child, you should avoid forcing them to talk. This may only make things worse and cause your child to lie about their situation. Just explain that you are there for them, and they will hopefully talk to you when ready.  

Listen, Listen, Listen

Don’t do all the talking! Often, your child just wants to be heard and wants to know that their parents are supportive. They want to feel validated in their concerns. Be patient. Your child might not be ready for this conversation but will likely open up eventually. That being said, if you are worried about their safety, or the safety of anyone else, then it may be best to take more drastic measures. 

Join Them in Healthy Hobbies

A teenager with a mental illness should speak with a doctor about their symptoms. The doctor may recommend treatment options, such as medications or therapy. Whatever is recommended, be sure to support your child through the process. Don’t let any preconceived notions about medication or therapy hinder your child from getting better. 

In addition to therapy and medication, there are plenty of activities that can be excellent forms of therapy. If your child wants you to join them for a morning jog, or take part in an art class, do it if you can! If you can’t, then words of encouragement can also be beneficial. 

Final Thought

Mental illness can be one of the most challenging things for a teenager to discuss with their parents. Some might even not realize that they are experiencing a mental disorder. That is why it is crucial for you, as a parent, to provide constant support for your teen and make sure they always feel safe with you. Teenagers need to know they can discuss these types of things with their parents without fear of judgment. 

Talking to your teenage child about mental illness can prove an awkward conversation, but necessary. If you believe that your child might have a mental illness, provide a comfortable setting for the two of you to discuss it. Listen to your teen’s feelings and thoughts and let them know you will always be there to support them. When anyone is going through a mental illness, it is crucial they have a strong support system. At Achieve Medical, we work hard to provide some of the best mental health care for children, young adults, and adults. We treat various mental illnesses and currently have locations in Alaska, California, and Oregon. Services we offer include depression treatment, military mental health treatment, Telemedicine, and many more. Our staff is made up of professional therapists, nurses, psychologists, and psychiatrists. We also take many forms of insurance. Get your treatment started today by calling Achieve Medical at (619) 375-3977.