Few things can be as difficult for a parent as watching their child or teenager struggle with mental illness, sadness, depression, bullying, or behavioral disorders. If you are a parent whose teenager is struggling, you likely worry about the day and night, are confused about handling certain behaviors and outbursts, and aren’t sure where to turn. The good news is that while having a child with mental health issues can be difficult, there’s plenty of professional help out there that can make a big difference in your child’s recovery. If you’re wondering how to help your teenager through a rough patch, mental illness, or temporary behavior challenge, read on for some important things to think about.
Using Proper Healthcare and Medications
If your child has been having behavior issues, has been diagnosed with a serious mental health issue like bipolar disorder, or even if you and your child have been struggling to get along, one of the most important things you can do to advocate for your teenager is to ensure they have the proper therapists, psychiatrist, doctors, and medications to help them with their mental health challenges. Whether you and your family are new to mental health issues or if your child has been struggling for some time, the first thing you’ll want to do is double-check to be sure your child has the resources they need to help work through these challenging times. From cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to professional help with substance abuse, you might be surprised to learn just how many options for care, and even medications, are available to you.
After you’ve found the right psychiatrist to prescribe an appropriate medication for your teenager, you’ll need a plan to ensure that you can continue to provide prescription drugs to your child. One of the worst things you can do when a person has a mental disorder is to change their level of care in any way without consulting a professional. If they are having good luck with prescription medications or love their therapist, you’ll want to be sure you can continue giving your child the resources working for them. If paying for medications for your child’s specific needs is becoming financially challenging, consider getting an America’s Pharmacy discount card, applying for Medicaid if you’re in the United States, and talking to your local pharmacist and family doctor about generic options for medications. America’s Pharmacy, for example, provides coupons and discounts on prescriptions.
Considering Residential Placements
Many parents have big concerns about placing a teen in group therapy, an intensive outpatient program, a day program for mental wellness, or even residential mental health facilities for teenagers in general. While it can be a big decision to put your child in placement, doing some research on treatment plans, the supportive environment these placements offer, and more might help.
For example, Polaris is a residential mental health treatment center for adolescents and teens. The Polaris treatment team provides sophisticated, innovative, and compassionate teen treatment to improve teens’ self-esteem. This involves care for major depression, trauma, gender dysphoria, substance abuse, and eating disorders, and self-harm. Within an environment of safety and understanding, the Polaris staff addresses issues that perpetuate mental health issues, addictions, and self-destructive behaviors.
Another benefit to a teen residential program is that they’ll have the comfort of peers going through the same challenges and can work with them in a supervised partnership for recovery.
Having Honest Conversations
Kids at different adolescent ages will naturally struggle with opening up to parents and other authority figures. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Do what you can to have an honest conversation with your child about their symptoms and things they may be experiencing like low self-esteem, concerns about counselors, being diagnosed with psychiatric issues, and more. By being open with your child about your own fears and concerns, you’ll be modeling for your teenager that it’s okay to open up. If you don’t have any luck, try to identify a family member they can talk to whom they may feel more comfortable with.
Think of helping your teenager with life’s challenges the same way you might a home renovation. To get to the bottom of issues, it’s always a good idea to clear the air. Think about getting a family therapist who can work with you on skills for how to talk to your teenager the same way you might purchase an Amazon air purifier to rid your home of odors or make sure you have clean air (especially if your teen has asthma) when you redo an unused room in your home. By starting fresh in a clean environment, you might get further when communicating with your teenager. Instead of sending them off to a teen treatment program with no conversation, you’ll be in a place to reassure them of your love for them and give them odds for a better recovery.
Getting Your Own Help or Starting Family Therapy
You’ll have a better chance of helping your teenager if you find a therapist you can talk to, too. This therapist will give you and your co-parent skills to navigate the challenges your child will go through, too. The reality is that many teenagers and adults struggle with mental health at least once in their life.
While some issues are more serious than others, it’s important to begin by validating your teenager and letting them know you’re there for the long run. By hiring the right professionals, having open conversations, getting help for yourself, learning coping skills, and being able to let go of your teenager long enough for them to get professional help, you’ll put you and your child in a better position for success. Before you know it, your child might feel more like themselves again, and you’ll have peace of mind that you did your best to help them.