By: Cary Quashen
May is Mental Health Month and we have been focusing on mental health topics on our KHTS AM 1220 Families In Action Radio Show. As many of you know I don’t particularly like talking about educational days, weeks or months.
The issues we discuss at Action Family Counseling are important topics all year long. Our discussions are important and may just save a life. I believe there needs to be a national conversation daily about mental health to reduce the shame and secrecy associated with mental illness.
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We often assume incorrectly that mental illness is only an adult issue. However, working with high-risk teens the last 35-years, I can tell you the conversation and growing awareness of adolescent mental health is just as important to understand. Unfortunately, denial, fear of social consequences, stigmatizations, discrimination and beyond often keeps people silent, especially parents.
We know that the teenage years can be stressful and challenging. And sometimes parents aren’t sure if their teen is experiencing typical growing pains or if they are headed for trouble with real mental health problems.
There is a difference between typical and troubled. Mental health problems in teens are real and painful. And when they are left untreated, they can have serious consequences. We know that mental health problems left untreated become worse over time, affecting a teen’s school performance, emotional and social life.
Recognizing mental health issues in teens is scary. Let’s face it; it’s a hard topic to wrap our heads around, especially if we are talking about our own loved ones. The good news is mental health treatment can be effective for teens on a long term basis.
Is your teen experiencing any of these symptoms?:
- Not eating or sleeping
- Can’t perform daily tasks like going to school
- Doesn’t want to hang out with friends or family
- Doesn’t want to do things they usually enjoy
- Fights a lot with family and friends
- Feels like they can’t control their emotions and it’s effecting relationships with family and friends
- Has low or no energy
- Feels hopeless
- Feels numb or like nothing matters
- Can’t stop thinking about certain things or memories
- Feels confused, forgetful, edgy, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Wants to harm themselves or others
- Has random aches and pains
- Smokes, drinks, or use drugs
- Hears voices
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Parents are more likely to see warning signs of mental health problems in their teens. But sometimes teachers, coaches, and school counselors see signs that others fail to notice. These signs usually aren’t one-time occurrences; they persist over several weeks.
If you see any of the warning signs, talk to your teen. Find out how they are doing and be a compassionate listener. Make sure the next time you ask how your teen is, encourage an honest answer.
Make sure your teen gets help from a mental health professional at school or in the community. You may need to start talking to your personal doctor or their nursing staff first. But get the help your teen needs. Treatment works.
For more information about Action Family Counseling, click here, or call (661) 297-8693.
Source: Santa Clarita News