As Children’s Mental Health Week draws to a close, we want to bring our readers’ attention to the issue of increased anxiety and depression among young people. Mental illnesses are more common in this demographic than ever before, but fortunately, there are plenty of steps parents can take to help their kids live healthy, happy lives.
Children’s Mental Health Statistics
Last year, the American Psychological Association released a report stating that children’s mental health was in crisis. After two full years of the pandemic, the need for pediatric psychological services reached an all-time high. At that point:
- 71% of parents believed the pandemic had taken a toll on their child’s mental health,
- 69% of parents called the pandemic the worst thing to happen to their children,
- Over 33% of students felt more depressed and unhappy than usual, and
- Mental health-related emergency room visits spiked by 31% for patients aged 12 to 17.
The pandemic complicated the process of receiving qualified mental health services. While most children received these interventions through their schools or community programs, COVID-19 reduced access to this type of care. Now that the world has gotten back on track, parents nationwide are hoping to help their teens recover.
How to Protect Your Child’s Well-Being
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that parents can boost their children’s mental health. Here are a few of our top recommendations.
Have open and honest conversations about mental health. Anxiety, depression, and trauma carry significant stigma, especially among teens, who are hyper-conscious of others’ opinions. The best way to combat this is to openly discuss these topics with your child. By normalizing conversations about mental health, bad days, and coping skills, you can help your teen to handle life’s ups and downs.
Remember to praise them. Many parents fall into the trap of nitpicking their teens. While it’s easy to point out the things you don’t like, praise can be an effective way to build rapport and reinforce good behavior. Cheer them on when they pick up after themselves, study after school, or prioritize their well-being.
Help them establish a healthy routine. Teenagers are prone to chaotic sleep schedules and full social schedules. Many of them struggle to get through mountains of homework each night. To alleviate the stress your child faces, work with them to create a mental health-focused routine. Set aside time for physical activity, mindfulness, or journaling throughout the week, and make sure they take care of themselves along the way.
Foster their independence. Remember what it was like to be a teenager? Maybe you wanted your own space or hated being told what to do. If your child is feeling that way, it’s developmentally normal and not a sign of mental illness. Try to balance their independence with enriching family time and great communication.
Find the help they need. If your child has been struggling for some time, find an accredited children’s mental health provider in your area. Look for all-inclusive programs that offer screenings and diagnostic services. An accurate assessment can lay the groundwork for your son or daughter’s recovery. From there, choose a provider with significant experience in the treatment of adolescents. These clinicians will have a deep understanding of the challenges your child faces in school and at home. Working with a treatment program can empower your teenager to cope with their symptoms, overcome everyday obstacles, and live well.
Treatment for Preteens and Teens
The Forum at San Diego Brainworks offers life-changing treatment for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17. Our commitment to children’s mental health is reflected in our evidence-based, compassionate approach. Whether your child needs relief from anxiety or a little extra help to thrive in school, we’re here for your family. Learn more about our services or contact us for more information.