Unfortunately, anxiety and depression affect children and teens as well as adults. For families with a child who is suffering from mental health issues, it can be difficult to cope with the reality of the situation. Sometimes it can be a brain chemistry issue or the result of an injury or trauma, and sometimes it seems to come from nothing at all. It can be hard to know where to turn for help, especially when time is of the essence. These resources can help your family cope with mental illness.
Learn More About Mental Illness
TeenMentalHealth.org offers several educational resources, including a toolbox for parents, teens, and caregivers filled with free downloadable guides and publications for coping with panic disorders, OCD, bipolar, depression, addiction, schizophrenia, and anxiety. Understanding the way these conditions present themselves, common symptoms and helpful ways to interact with suffering teens can help parents and caregivers, even friends cope with mental illness.
Navigating the Mental Healthcare System
Most medical insurance programs provide for mental health care treatment, but some do not. Accessing adolescent mental health care should be easier than it is, which is why it's important to act fast. In some states, families are reporting long wait lists, and lengthy intake processes that can delay care, sometimes too long. If a young person asks for help, they need it now. Some states have crisis lines you can call for referrals, and walk-in clinics. If it appears that the patient is suicidal, an ER visit can often fast-track them into the care they need.
The Dangers of Ignoring a Teen in Need
There's a stigma around mental illness; admitting that you're suffering can be daunting even for adults. Someone who is depressed often hates themselves, and doesn't want anyone to focus on their perceived "faults." Even suggesting that they may need help could be interpreted as proof of their inadequacy and fuel for their depression, rather than compassion from a loved one.
While it's not possible to prevent a teen from being exposed to emotional triggers, like cyber-bullying, media images that affect their body image, racism, gender dysphoria or violence, it is possible to help them move toward a more proactive mindset. Instead of drowning in their sea of despair, parents and caregivers can help teens verbalize their suffering and adopt new tools for dealing with emotions, including re-framing adverse situations as temporary, to mitigate feelings of hopelessness.
Even when a situation can be physically resolved, like switching schools to avoid bullies, moving in with an aunt to escape abusive parents or siblings or drug rehabilitation for addiction, the emotions surrounding the trauma can be difficult to navigate for several years afterward, and few teens are emotionally equipped to manage their recovery. For that matter, so are few adults. Proactive responses can include making time for meaningful conversations, talk therapy or life coaching, therapeutic activities that reaffirm their value and individuality (art and music are popular) or medical/psychiatric care.
The important thing to remember is that "doing nothing" will rarely solve the problem. Engaging with teens who are suffering from mental health conditions is often the first step toward providing them with the tools and resources they need to tackle one of life's greatest challenges.
At Northside Chapel Funeral Directors and Crematory, we have helpful resources for coping when a death occurs, which can trigger a mental health crisis in even the most resilient of youth. Contact us today to learn more.