Mental health has been a growing concern for the past few years, not just in adults but also in the younger generation. Around the world, about 14% of adolescents aged 10 to 19 experience mental illnesses, with depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders being the top reasons for their condition.
When these mental health concerns are not adequately addressed, they can lead to serious consequences. Some carry this disorder when they enter adulthood, which can impair them physically and mentally, preventing them from reaching their full potential. In more severe cases, the patients may even decide to take their lives, and this is why suicide is one of the leading causes of death among people aged 15 to 29.
In a 2019 survey, more than 30% of high school students in the US have said that they experienced constant feelings of hopelessness or sadness, while about 16% of young people claimed they made a suicide plan in the past twelve months. Both numbers have increased by more than 40% compared to ten years ago, which points to the seriousness of mental health issues in the community.
Possible Causes of Mental Health Disorders In Adolescents
There are many reasons for mental health to be affected negatively, sometimes to the extent that it can lead to a disorder. However, adolescents are at a higher risk because they are at a stage where they are still developing social and emotional habits that impact their mental well-being.
At this time, your teen should be starting to adopt healthy sleep patterns, learning to manage his emotions, and developing problem-solving, coping, and interpersonal skills. This is also the period when they are exposed to factors that can be detrimental to their mental health, such as peer pressure, stress, and adversity. Social media is another possible trigger because it highlights the disparity between a teenager’s perception of an ideal life and the reality of his daily life.
Aside from these, other extreme causes include harsh parenting or living conditions, social stigmas such as discrimination or exclusion, and lack of adequate support. Violence can sometimes be involved, including bullying or sexual assault.
Signs Of Mental Health Issues In Your Teen
Mental health concerns can manifest in different ways, so you need to pay close attention to your teen to see signs. Here are the more common mental health disorders and how to look out for them:
1. Emotional Disturbance
One of the more common manifestations of mental health illness among adolescents is emotional disorder, such as anxiety and depression. This is more common among older adolescents aged 15 to 19 and is often exhibited as excessive worrying or panicking. Patients may also show rapid and unexpected mood changes.
2. Behavioral Disorder
This type of mental health concern is more common in younger adolescents. One example of this is Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), characterized by excessive activity, difficulty in paying attention, and risk-taking without regard to consequences. Another is conduct disorder, which includes challenging, manipulative, or destructive behavior. This can result in physical aggression, bullying and cruelty toward people and animals, and rule-breaking activities like trespassing or ignoring curfews.
More often observed in late teens to young adults, psychosis disables a person’s ability to distinguish fantasy from reality as it disrupts his thoughts and perceptions. Unfortunately, this condition is not easy to detect, which is why only about 18% of young patients say that their parents recognized the symptoms early on and were able to intervene. This is because symptoms can be quite vague and easily mistaken as part of the typical adolescent phase, such as mood swings, detachment, loss of interest in usual activities, hygiene problems, and inability to express emotions.
4. Eating Disorder
Common eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating typically manifest in teens to young adults. Symptoms include abnormal eating behavior, intense fear or concern about body weight and shape, excessive use of medication to control weight, and a distorted physical image of themselves.
Helping Your Teen With Mental Health
If you notice signs of mental health disorder in your teen, don’t lose hope because there are ways to help them manage it better until they eventually heal. Work with mental health professionals so they can guide you on what to do depending on the specific disorder.
When necessary, consider looking for a program that offers residential treatment for teens so that professionals can watch over him more closely and provide the care and assistance he needs the most at this time. What’s more crucial is being able to detect the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders so you can address them as soon as possible.
It is also better to work on prevention measures that will strengthen your teen’s resilience to adversity and ability to regulate his emotions. As such, try to surround your teen with a supportive social environment and encourage him to build a healthy social network, making him feel connected and engaged with the community. This feeling of connection and belonging can help prevent mental health issues and will pull him away from other risk factors like drugs and violence.