July 6, 2023
Navigating the Teen Mental Health Crisis: A Parent’s Guide for High Schoolers
As a senior portrait photographer in Maryland and Washington, DC, I have had the privilege of working with countless high schoolers over the years. While capturing their unique personalities through my lens, I’ve also witnessed the rollercoaster of emotions that teenagers often experience. It’s important to remember that while some moodiness is normal during these years, there are times when it could signal a more serious mental health issue. In this blog post, I’ll share some stories, insights, and guidance for recognizing the signs of mental health issues in teens, seeking professional help, and promoting positive mental health in your child.
Recognizing Signs of Mental Health Issues
When a teenager has mental health problems, it’s not always easy to spot them. It’s common for teenagers to be moody and emotional during this stage of development, but there are some symptoms that could point to a more serious problem. Here are some signs to watch out for:
Changes in Mood or Behavior
Is your usually energetic teen suddenly lethargic, or has their appetite drastically changed? Have their grades started to slip, or have they lost interest in activities they used to enjoy? These could be signs that something is going on beneath the surface.
Isolation or Withdrawal
Teenagers often crave privacy and alone time, but if your child seems to be avoiding social situations or spending most of their time alone, it’s worth investigating further.
Did you know that mental health issues can sometimes manifest as physical symptoms? Watch out for complaints of headaches, stomachaches, or other bodily aches and pains.
Seeking Professional Help
If you suspect that your teen is struggling with their mental health, it’s important to seek professional help. Here are some steps you can take if you’re in a similar situation:
Start with Your Pediatrician
Your child’s pediatrician can be a good first point of contact. They can help you determine whether your child needs to see a mental health specialist and can refer you to one if necessary.
Find a Mental Health Professional
There are many types of mental health professionals who work with teenagers, including therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. It’s important to find someone who specializes in working with young people and who you and your child feel comfortable with.
Encourage Your Teen to Be Open
Talking about mental health issues can be difficult, especially for teenagers. Encourage your child to be open and honest with their mental health provider so that they can get the help they need.
Promoting Positive Mental Health
While seeking professional help is essential, remember that there are also steps you can take to promote positive mental health in your child. Here are some ideas:
Teach your child the importance of self-care, including getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring them joy and relaxation. I encourage the teens I work with to take time for themselves, whether it’s reading a book, taking a walk, or practicing yoga.
Model Positive Behaviors
As a parent, you are a role model for your child. Make sure you are modeling positive behaviors when it comes to mental health. This includes things like taking care of your own mental health, seeking help when needed, and talking openly about your feelings.
Encourage Open Communication
Make sure your child knows that they can talk to you about anything. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings with you, and make sure you are listening with an open mind and without judgment.
The Stigma of Medication
Finally, it’s essential to address the stigma surrounding medication for mental health issues. Many people still believe that taking medication for mental health issues is a sign of weakness or a character flaw. This stigma can prevent people from seeking the help they need.
However, medication can be an effective treatment for many mental health issues. It’s essential to work with a mental health professional to find the right medication and dosage for your teenager. If medication is recommended, talk to your teenager about the benefits and side effects and encourage them to take an active role in their treatment.
Remember that mental health is just as important as physical health. It is critical for parents to recognize the signs of mental health problems, seek professional help when necessary, and promote positive mental health. With the right support, your adolescent can thrive and overcome any obstacles.
In the Takoma Park, Maryland area, there are several places where teens and parents can seek mental health help. Here are a few options:
- Adventist HealthCare: Offers a range of mental health services, including individual therapy, group therapy, and medication management.
- Cornerstone Montgomery: Provides mental health and wellness services for individuals of all ages, including counseling, crisis intervention, and psychiatric rehabilitation.
- Mary’s Center: Offers mental health counseling services for children, adolescents, and adults, as well as support groups and psychiatric evaluations.
- Montgomery County Crisis Center: Provides crisis intervention services, including a 24-hour crisis hotline, mobile crisis outreach teams, and walk-in crisis services.
- Montgomery County Public Schools Mental Health and Wellness: Offers various resources and support for mental health in schools, including counseling services, crisis intervention, and community referrals
It’s important to note that contacting these organizations directly or consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended for personalized assistance and up-to-date information on available services. It’s important to choose a mental health professional who is the right fit for you or your teenager’s specific needs. Consider factors such as their expertise, approach, and availability when making a decision. It’s also recommended to reach out to your insurance provider to understand coverage and possible referrals.
To summarize, navigating the world of teen mental health can be challenging for parents. However, by recognizing signs of mental health problems, seeking professional help when necessary, and encouraging positive mental health in your child, you can help them navigate this difficult time and set them up for future success.
Hi, I’m Stephanie, your Maryland/DC area senior portrait photographer. If you’re looking for information and support for your teen, I hope this blog post was helpful. Working with high school students and their families is something I love because senior sessions pamper the teens and give their self-esteem a boost! If you think your teen would enjoy a creative and memorable senior session, let’s chat and plan it!
If you’re wondering when the best time to schedule a senior portrait session is, find the answer here!