Mental Health & Teens

What are the Concerns?

Just like adults, children and young people experience a variety of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, attention deficit, post traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive and other disorders. Roughly 20% of the population will have concerns at some point in their lives that make it necessary to seek some assistance. In fact, the most prescribed medicines in the US are mental health related. Young people have mental health needs, too.

A concern with young people is that the stigma can be very difficult to manage, and they may be reluctant to seek help because of their peer group. Likewise, adults often minimize teen concerns, as ‘typical’ or ‘for attention’ and can miss very serious health conditions. Finally, young people are at risk for more problems if they aren’t helped: pregnancy, substance abuse, dropping out, suicide and antisocial behavior. Getting help early is really important, because mental health problems are treatable.

What can I do?

  • Stay optimistic. There are hundreds of studies demonstrating the effectiveness¬†of therapies and medications.
  • Take notice of any changes in your child’s mood, appetite, weight, thinking, grades, and relationships.
  • If sudden changes occur in any of these areas, and the changes last for more than two weeks, call a professional for an evaluation.
  • Reduce stigma by talking with your child openly about mental health, and by avoiding making fun of people who have mental illness. No one wants to come clean about a struggle they are having if they think you will believe they are ‘crazy’ or a ‘psycho’.
  • Deal with your own mental health productively. We all need to take care of our mental health, just like we need to take care of our bodies. Work on your attitude, be open, learn to communicate well, and, if you have a mental health condition, work with a treatment provider consistently.
  • Know what your child’s risk factors are. For instance, if your child has a learning disability, this can lead to a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness; sparking depression. A health care provider can help you identify risk factors, and then you can take a proactive approach in strengthening your child in these areas.

What is are my Child’s Rights and my Rights?

You and your child have the right to be treated with dignity and respect in all treatment environments. Any healthcare provider you seek services through will provide you with a Consent for services, and this consent will detail your rights and responsibilities.

In Pennsylvania, children who are 14 and older have a right to seek confidential outpatient mental health services. However, you and your child may sign Releases of Information, so that providers can communicate with parents. However, outpatient providers cannot force these children into treatment. Children who are 14 and older may also seek inpatient care independently. However, their parents may also sign them into the hospital against their will upon doctor’s advice.

Mental Health in the News

12 signs that you may have an anxiety disorder- read the full article at: