It is not always easy to distinguish teenage moodiness from teenage depression, so why not build a safety net for your teen’s mental health.
Look for signs of depression through the lens of your child.
While I knew the common signs of depression, I didn’t see them in my own daughter. She didn’t fit the mold.
When she was diagnosed with major depression and anxiety, she had straight As, an after-school job, and a social life. She seemed fine until, ever responsible, she told me she was depressed and that she needed help.
Now it all makes sense to me. My daughter is an achiever and a rule follower. She gave herself timeouts as a toddler. She has always been exceedingly resourceful, independent and responsible.
My son is different. He’s a creator, witty and charismatic. A reluctant leader. That expression–he moves to the beat of his own drum–fits him perfectly. He has never been motivated by rules or expectations.
Depression and anxiety show up differently in each of them.
To build a safety net for your teen’s mental health remember the child inside your teenager? If they look and act nothing like they did as a child, think about your you describe him or her to friends or family. What adjectives do you use? What anecdotes do you tell? How did they handle stress or new situations? What’s their risk tolerance? What are their core values?
It’s true that teenagers are a moody, secretive bunch, but your child is still in there. Build a safety net for your teen’s mental health by remembering their baseline. Then look for signs of depression from that vantage point.
Tell your child you would happily get them help if they ever wanted it.
A while back, I spoke with Jeff Williams, head of Business Development at BetterHelp.org, which is billed as “the world’s largest online counselling platform”.
Most of the traffic entering the funnel on teencounseling.com comes through the “Teen” door versus the “Parent” door.
Most of the teenagers complete the intake questionnaire, a series of questions about why they’re there and what they need. They create an account with email and password, verify their email address, and then answer more questions.
As far as sales funnels go, it’s a long one. There are a lot of steps. I did it myself the other day. But teens are completing them all. They want help.
And then they get to this screen. Any guesses what happens?
“Traffic falls of a cliff,” Jeff says.
Parents should know this. That kids are seeking out online counseling for their mental health at higher rates than parents. What’s stopping them from getting it is a fear of telling their parents.
As the adult in this relationship, why not make the first move? Let your kids know it’s ok to ask for help. That you would help them in a second, no questions asked. Tell them, even if they seem perfectly fine.
Teach your kids how to be there for their friends
In Canada, Jack.org surveyed 1200 youth and found 83% have supported a friend with a mental health issue. Only 39% of them felt they were prepared to offer the support needed. That’s a heavy weight to bear as a kid.
Whether directly or indirectly, our kids are dealing with mental health issues, so why not be proactive and help them out. Jack.org has made it super easy to do so.
- Say what you see
- Show you care
- Hear them out
- Know your role
- Connect to help
So, talk to your kids. Ask them if they’ve ever had to support one of their friends. Ask them if they knew what to do. Point them to BeThere.org. Tell them they can come to you if they need help helping a friend.
In the process, you’ll open a window to talking with your teen about mental health without “getting into their business,” as my son would say.
Let me know what you think of these recommendations to safeguard your teen’s mental health. And if you have other ideas, please leave them in the comments below.