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Talking About Mental Health with Your Teen

two people talking about mental health

Many parents like to think they have a good relationship with their teens, despite the age difference. However, no matter how close you are, talking about mental health with your teen can be a big challenge. It is often difficult for parents to know the details of their children’s daily difficulties. Adolescents often hide things they are thinking about and feeling, things that cause them stress, and things that are becoming too much for them to handle. The stigma of mental health problems is powerful, and teens don’t want to stand out negatively or become an object of ridicule.

Parents must emphasize to teens that they are not alone. Mental health treatment for teens in Colorado is always available at Imagine Fort Collins. If you’ve spoken to your teen and you see that they are struggling, it may be time for them to get professional help. Our experienced staff members are dedicated to providing integrated treatment for mental health disorders in teens aged 13 to 17. We offer specialized teen treatment programs that can give support to the whole family and teach you how to manage many common mental health conditions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 888.291.2309.

How to Talk About Mental Health with Teens

In any relationship, communication is a vital aspect to avoid misunderstandings. Parents instinctively know when something is wrong with their teen since they have already spent most of their teen’s life comforting and guiding them. However, broaching the subject of their child’s mental health is often a tentative and awkward conversation. There are a couple of ways to approach your teen so that they feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible when talking about the serious subject matter.

Choose a Good Time

Conversations only flow when there is no pressure or preconceived notions about an agenda. Talking about mental health when you only have a few minutes to spare or your teen is preoccupied with other responsibilities can be counterproductive. Choose a time when you and your teen are naturally relaxed and calm, ready to listen and be heard.

Present Your Observations

It’s essential to frame your concerns regarding what you’ve observed in your child’s behavior or demeanor. The key is that these observations must be non-judgmental since you don’t want to assume the reasons for their behaviors. Some examples can include the following:

  • They stopped hanging out with a particular group of friends – Don’t assume that there was bullying or a break in the friendship
  • Their grades have started to decline – Don’t assume that something else is distracting them or that there’s something wrong with them. Simply offer help if they need it

This allows your teen to explain what’s going on if they feel like it, releasing them from the pressure of correcting an incorrect assumption on your part.

Listen Actively

Pay attention to what your teen says about their situation, and believe them when they talk about their feelings and thoughts. They may not have anyone to talk to about these topics, and if they open up to you, they trust you with information they may want to keep from spreading to friends or other family members. It can help to recap what your child has told you after they’re done speaking, so you can be sure that you understand correctly.

Support Your Teen’s Decisions

While your teen may be struggling, they still need to be able to make decisions for themselves. You can suggest a course of action, but at the end of the day, they still need to be on board with the plan. Give your teen the support they need to make their own decisions.

Get Teen Mental Health Treatment at Imagine Fort Collins

Sometimes your teen may require more than you can offer regarding guidance and support. That’s not a personal failing, as professionals have trained for years to be able to help teens through a variety of mental health issues. In these situations, the best thing to do is to seek assistance from a mental health and behavioral health center, such as Imagine Fort Collins.

If your teen is ready and willing to receive support from a mental health professional, contact Imagine Fort Collins today at 888.291.2309. We’d be happy to tell you more about how our skilled, caring staff members can help your teen.