Teens and Mental Health: What to watch for


For many teenagers, these and other pressures can lead to one or more of a variety of mental health disorders; all are matters of concern, and some are life-threatening. 

Key Tips for Parents

  • Keep communication constant, open, and honest: Encourage from an early age that kids can come to you to talk about their worries. Share your experiences that you had at their age.
  • Understand that mental health disorders are treatable: Become familiar with the current trends in the most common mental health disorders among adolescents.
  • Be attentive to your teen’s behavior: Adolescence is, indeed, a time of transition and change, but severe, dramatic, or abrupt changes in behavior can be strong indicators of serious mental health issues. Watch for changes in their usual patterns.

Mental Health “Red Flags” Parents Should Be Alert For

  • Excessive sleeping (beyond usual teenage fatigue: depression or substance abuse)
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Abandonment or loss of interest in favorite pastimes
  • Unexpected and dramatic decline in academic performance
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite (could indicate eating disorder like anorexia/bulimia)
  • Personality shifts and changes, such as aggressiveness and excess anger that are sharply out of character and could indicate psychological, drug, or sexual problems
  • If you are concerned about your teen hurting themselves or taking their life say something!
  • Sometimes there are no warning signs: pay attention to what your kids are doing, where they are going, who they are with. Ask questions, don’t just be Ok with “I’m hanging out with friends”. Ask who was there, what did they do, etc.

Key Mental Health Issues: Depression, Eating disorders, and drug abuse

Resources: American Academy of Pediatrics:https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/Pages/Mental-Health-and-Teens-Watch-for-Danger-Signs.aspx