Sponsored by Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare System
Being a teenager is one of the toughest times in anyone’s life.
It’s a fraught time when teenagers are figuring out who they are, defining themselves and struggling with bodily and societal changes. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended many teens’ lives, making this time period extra challenging.
These challenges can lead to mental health problems. In recent years, there has been a startling rise in depression and other mental health issues, according to Lauren English, a licensed professional counselor and business development representative with Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare.
English cites data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stating that in 2019, one in three high school students reported having persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, a 40 percent increase since 2009. In addition, one in six teenagers reported having made a suicide plan in the past year in 2019, an increase of 44 percent since 2009.
“We’re probably just likely seeing the beginning of the impact of the pandemic on mental health for teens. Which means we probably want to go ahead and prepare that those numbers are going to increase considering everything that we’ve all been through. But especially teens – it’s a hard enough time being that age and throw a pandemic in there, and it makes it even harder,” English says.
With this rise in mental health-related issues, English says that parents should consider having their teens talk to a therapist. However, she understands that teens – as well as their parents – may not be completely comfortable with the idea.
English provides three tips for encouraging their teenagers to consider therapy.
- Take the Lead and Get Counseling
- English says that parents should set the example and get counseling themselves. “Nothing speaks louder to our children than our own actions,” she says. Going to therapy will help create a culture in your household that values therapy and the vulnerability necessary to take this step. “As English says, “We’re comfortable with taking our cars in for a tune-in. We’re comfortable with going to see our doctors for our yearly visits. Why would we not take the time to care for our minds?”
- Make Therapy a Family Problem
- Parents could be a factor in their child’s mental health issues, and English encourages them to recognize that. If parents can accept that they might be part of the problem, their teen may be willing to accept that they also are part of the problem. This mutual understanding can help parents and teens meet in the middle.
- Give Teens Ownership of the Process
- It can be unnerving to let a stranger talk to your child, but that is part of the process. Take some initiative and call prospective therapists to feel them out. Let your teen talk to them, too.