Teodora Ghiur on Sep 15, 2021 in Life Transition
Mental health issues affect people from all walks of life, regardless of age, nationality, or social background. Teens and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to mental illnesses due to the developmental changes associated with this stage. Fortunately, there are now various resources available to help them make a healthy transition to adulthood, such as counseling and talk therapy. This article will include relevant information on how teens can benefit from counseling interventions, especially when they have an ongoing or acute mental health issue.
Let’s face it - the complex nature of today’s society is too overwhelming even for well-rounded and resourceful adults, let alone young teens who are yet to learn how to navigate its challenging space. The transitional and changing nature of being teenage can create an imbalance in the fragile psyche of adolescents. Added on top of school pressure, challenging social life and an unstable sense of identity, teenage years are a vulnerable time that can easily lead to mental disorders.
Many teens struggle with mental health challenges like:
Bullying and abuse at school or in their social life;
Self-esteem problems and lack of a stable identity;
Substance misuse and addictions;
Domestic violence and other forms of abuse from their caregivers;
Anxiety, depression, stress or other mental health disorders;
An abusive parent or teacher;
A death in the family, going through a process of grieving and loss;
Loneliness, abandonment, isolation;
A lack of direction and purpose in life, uncertainty around where they should head after finishing college, etc.
If you are a teen experiencing mental distress, know that this is very common for your age. At this stage in your development, you might still rely on other people to provide you with the resources you need to function optimally, such as emotional support, financial resources, safety, and learning resources - and when these are not available, it can affect your sense of wellbeing.
What you can do, instead, is ask for support and refrain from isolating yourself. This could make things feel even more difficult and unbearable.
Support can come from your parents, schoolteachers, close friends, relatives, or school counselors. Having a strong support network in place can relieve the burdens of a mental health issue from your shoulders and make you feel seen, accepted, and understood. It will also help you resolve the underlying causes of your mental health struggle from a stable and more empowered place.
Counseling can be beneficial at any stage during a mental health struggle. If you do not feel comfortable talking to a familiar face, you can definitely consider getting in touch with a therapist.
Therapists are trained professionals who treat most types of mental issues and, besides this, the privacy and confidentiality of your personal data are guaranteed, except for rare situations.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that, unlike parents, friends, and relatives who are not trained to handle mental health issues, counsellors have the knowledge and expertise to do it safely and adequately.
If you are a parent and have noticed changes in your teen’s behavior and emotions, it is important to take action as early as you can. Besides referring your child to a mental health professional, you can also support your teen through specific actions. For example, it is highly important to show compassion, unconditional acceptance and understanding even when their school performance drops or they don’t perform their duties as usual. You can let your teen know that you are there to support them and you will not judge them for whatever they say or do. Show them that you can be their best friend by accompanying them when they need so, listening to them, and being open to all kinds of conversations.
Try not to force your teen to open up to you immediately. This will make them retreat even farther in their world while pushing everyone else away. Give them as much time and space as they need until they gain the trust and courage to fully confide in you if they ever decide to do so.
Having parental support during a mental health crisis is paramount, so try to show more kindness and understanding than usual. Remember that mood swings and behavioral changes are common in a mental health issue, so do your best to remain patient and understanding to the best of your ability.
During a counseling process with a teen, it is common to explore the aspects of someone’s life which cause them imbalance and distress. Teens are supported to identify the things that upset them and set goals and objectives for their mental wellbeing.
During a typical counseling session, teenagers are listened to talk about the source of their distress and guided in the process of finding ways to make sense of the events happening to them. Counseling is a safe space where everyone is welcome and accepted, therefore, teenagers do not have to worry about being judged or criticized for their actions. Counselors can help with psychoeducation - which refers to an education process about the link between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, setting clear objectives and boundaries, implementing coping strategies and mechanisms, as well as with referrals to medical professionals who might need to be involved in certain cases.
Teenagers can find therapy useful through its welcoming, accepting and secure nature. Therapists are trained to listen actively and show empathy, which is beneficial for everyone, especially for teenagers who need someone to confide in and who are concerned about the private and sensitive nature of their issues.
Besides being a space where individuals can make sense of events happening in their lives, therapy can also provide a source of personal empowerment by helping teens develop a better image of themselves. In this sense, adolescents can find that they feel more capable to handle difficulties in their lives and find solutions to their struggles.
Besides, therapy can also help teens set healthy boundaries with certain relationships in their life that are causing them mental distress. Depending on the unique needs and circumstances of each adolescent, therapy can serve different purposes that help teens achieve better mental health and social functioning.
If you are looking for someone to treat teen mental health issues, you can look for someone in your area who can provide counseling services. You can simply find someone in your local area through TherapyDen.com by entering your zip code at the top of this website. You can also ask for local recommendations from your teen’s school or medical services.
Once you find a counselor, you can have an initial consultation with them and see whether they are a match for your needs. Since different counselors specialize in different mental health issues, you might want to speak with someone whose expertise matches your mental health needs.
It is important that your teen feels safe and secure in the counselor’s presence and feels that they are compatible with their counseling approach.