Teenage Moodiness or Mental Health Crisis?

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Teenagers are emotional and hard to read creatures at the best of times. However, with increasing focus on rising mental health issues in our youth, it can be hard for parents to know if the behaviour they are seeing from their teen is normal or something to worry about.

Did you know that suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents? When you hear that and other scary statistics around youth mental health, the concerns of teen’s parents are probably valid.

With issues modern issues such as cyber bullying on top of age-old teenage challenges such relationships, alcohol, drugs, school and family life, it can be hard for parents to know what it going on for their child.

So when your teen has locked themselves away in their room and won’t communicate, how can you tell if they are just experiencing the normal highs and lows of adolescence or if there is something more sinister at play? Your teen themselves might be feeling overwhelmed and confused by their mental state as well.

What To Look Out For

There are some red flags for parents to watch out for when it comes to teen behaviour. These include:

  • Dramatic drop in academic performance
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Abandonment of previous favourite activities, hobbies or friends (not just outgrowing them)
  • Personality changes or out of character behaviour such as aggressiveness, paranoia or
  • Excessive risk taking
  • Weight loss/loss of appetite
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Self-harm
  • Excessive isolation

How To Help

Here are some tips to help keep abreast of what’s happening for your young person:

  • Maintain open communication channels
  • Listen without judgement
  • Be positive, do not shame or put down your child
  • Teach and model mindfulness
  • Maintain rules and boundaries
  • Be aware of technology usage and the impact it has on your teen.
  • Be aware of signs and symptoms of mental health problems so you can take action early
  • Don’t be afraid to seek professional help

Where To Go

Fortunately there are lots of great resources and information out there for parents (and teens) to access in order to navigate this tricky time.

For example, Beyond Blue’s Youth website have an abundance of resources including a Brain Quiz to identify underlying depression or anxiety.

Other resources that have great information for parents as well as young people, include:

Headspace

Kids Helpline

Reachout.com

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About Author

Renee Meier

Renée is a freelance writer, perpetual student and aspiring novelist. In her spare time she's the sole parent to 3 rambunctious little people. She survives predominantly on coffee and squishy hugs.

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