The life of a teenager/young adult is a like a roller coaster that last for years. Adolescence isn’t an easy time for parents, either. As teenagers move through these challenging transitions that accompany adolescence — physical, emotional, hormonal, sexual, social, intellectual — the pressures and problems they encounter can all too easily seem overwhelming. 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.

Mental illnesses are disorders of brain function. They have many causes and result from complex interactions between a person’s genes and their environment. Having a mental illness is not a choice or moral failing. Mental illnesses occur at similar rates around the world, in every culture and in all socio-economic groups.

First, it’s understood that young adults can be moody, cranky, and worrisome with or without the influence of a mental health disorder. That’s just part of growing up. Young adults generally love or hate things, and one bad day can make them feel like the world is toppling down. Because young people are prone to mood swings and often feel out of control, it may be hard to identify what is a mental health disorder and what are normal growing pains.

Common Mental Health Disorders among Teenagers/Young Adults

  • Anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders like panic or generalized anxiety are the most common mental health problems in teenagers and adolescents.
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Its symptoms include poor attention and concentration. Teenagers with ADHD are easily distracted and act on impulse.
  • Depression. It affects mood, energy, interests, sleep, appetite, and overall functioning. Symptoms are extreme and lasting. They can greatly interfere with the ability to function at home or at school. Might lead to suicidal ideations/plans or intent.
  • Bipolar disorder. This illness causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. Periods of disruption switch off with periods of withdrawal and other depressive symptoms.

Mental Health “Red Flags” Parents Should be Aware of:

  • Excessive sleeping, beyond usual teenage fatigue, which could indicate depression or substance abuse; difficulty in sleeping, insomnia, and other sleep disorders
  • 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, which could indicate an eating disorder
  • Personality shifts and changes, such as aggressiveness and excess anger that are sharply out of character and could indicate psychological, drug, or sexual problems

Key Tips For Parents:

  • Keep communication constant, open, and honest: Your teenagers should not only know that they can talk to you about anything, you have to be committed to broaching topics of concern and do so openly. Talk about your own experiences and fears when you were an adolescent. Let them know that they are not alone; nor are their anxieties unique.
  • Understand that mental health disorders are treatable: Arm yourself with information about the most common mental health disorders among adolescents; speak with your teenager’s pediatrician, your local health department, your religious leader, and your teenager’s school representatives about what sorts of information are available from them.
  • 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.

Drug Abuse

In addition to peer pressure, mental health issues can lead adolescents not just to experiment with alcohol and drugs, but also to use substances for “self-medication.” And in addition to being aware of the behavioral and physical signs of alcohol and drug abuse — drug and alcohol paraphernalia or evidence, hangovers, slurred speech, etc. — parents should also:

  • Be alert for prescription drug misuse and abuse: Recent Reports state that prescription drug misuse by adolescents is second only to marijuana and alcohol misuse. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include Vicodin and Xanax.
  • Know that over-the-counter-medications can be abused as well: Teenagers also frequently abuse over the counter OTC cough and cold medications.

Parents please note: Concern about your adolescent’s mental health should first be addressed with your teenager — fostering open communication goes a long way toward fostering sound adolescent mental health habits.
Teenagers can have mental health disorders that interfere with the way they think, feel, and act. Some behavior problems can be seen as normal teenager development. And some require professional help.
Teenagers’s mental health is as important as their physical health. Great care should be taken to help a teenager who has a mental health problem. Mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders can affect the teenager’s future.
Getting help for mental health disorders can prevent a variety of problems in the future for a young adult. Because young people often feel like their emotions are out of control anyway, a mental health condition can compound these feelings, making the person feel hopeless and truly out of reach. Unfortunately, less than half of young adults with mental health disorders get the help they need. People can feel ashamed or embarrassed about their feelings and opening up to someone about them, so many don’t receive treatment. Fear Not as there many many of us who are in this field because we care and are here to ease the process to get you information and help you need.

Your Physician or clinician (therapist) will help you assess if your teenager or young adult has a mental illness. Schools especially here in the USA have professionals that are able to assess and recommend treatment for your teenager. Counseling and Success Coaching is what I provide for all including those diagnosed with a mental illness, to help teach coping skills, medication management and increase one’s mental ability to thrive irrespective of a mental health diagnosis.

To Contact DrStem Mahlatini, LICSW:

email [email protected] or book an appointment on her website www.drstemspeaks.com ; www.drstemmie.com Phone 1 844 377-8365. DrStem conducts in person, telephone and skype counseling and coaching. Helping Individuals discover and lead #stress #free #lives is her mission.

With over 20 years of experience working in the corporate world, schools and detention centers, as an Employee Assistance Professional, Career-Life Coach, Teen- Parent Champion, Counselor and soft skills trainer, Dr. Stem understands the importance of having the three BIG C’s – Confidence, Connections and Courage. She believes when you have mastered these three C’s, you are able to tap into everything within you to create the unique and best life, you are meant to live. She has dedicated her life to Boosting Confidence For Success through The DrStem Radio and Television shows, Books, Life-Career Coaching, Empowerment Seminars and Workshops as well Speaking at Conferences around the Globe.

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