Mental health during adolescence shapes the rest of our lives. How we feel, think, and act today may be traced to our state of mental health during our teen years—a crucial time when we create positive mental habits and build a foundation for a stable, fulfilling adult life.
For teens and parental figures alike, however, adolescence can be incredibly difficult to navigate, bringing its own set of unique challenges for each party.
Teenagers experience a rush of new emotions, experiences, and hormones in a very short amount of time, making them especially vulnerable to mental health issues. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 50% of all mental illnesses in adults were developed by age 14. Teen Mental Health reports that 1 in 5 teenagers in the U.S. – or 20 percent of the teenage population – suffer from at least one mental illness. Being aware of the exact causes of these mental health issues in teens represents the first step in prevention. When we as parents, professionals, and laypeople learn more about these potential obstacles, we can help empower teens to grow through mental health challenges in a healthy, strong way.
Here are 5 common causes of mental health issues in teens that all parents or caregivers should look out for:
An early experience of loss
Losing a parent or sibling is like losing a part of yourself, and to experience this type of loss as a child can leave deep wounds in a child’s emotional health. If not dealt with correctly, the child’s brain and emotional mechanisms can be permanently molded around this pain, affecting all aspects of their life, including the way they handle relationships, their emotional and psychological development, and their future success as an adult.
Abuse or trauma
Early experiences of violence or sexual abuse have been linked to the onset of depression, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, suicide risk and more. It can take years of intense counselling to understand the full effects of the abuse or trauma on the child’s mind and to chart the trajectory of its effects, which often manifest during the teenage years.
Lack of dietary information and resources
Overeating, due to a number of factors, is a silent killer among youth and can be a major indicator of mental illness. Alternatively, undereating is also recognized as a primary sign of mental health issues. In both cases, access to healthy, affordable foods, as well as information about portions, nutrition, and other related factors is not always readily available to households across different socioeconomic demographics. In addition to adverse health effects, overeating and undereating can affect a teen’s self-confidence when it comes to almost any sort of social dynamic, as well as affecting the way they feel about themselves – which could have serious implications for their overall mental and emotional wellbeing. On top of that, overeating and undereating can create a domino effect that can cause countless other health issues.
Unsafe home life
The home is ideally supposed to act as a sanctuary for teens, where they can be free from the stress of their day-to-day lives. However, as we all know, the variance between different households is vast, and it includes important considerations about the needs of any individual. Anyone feeling unsafe at home, especially a teen who has little to no control over their home, is predisposed towards mental health issues, and will need healthier household patterns to address their own mental illness. As parents or adults, it’s important for us to figure out how to offer the safest possible homes, classrooms, and spaces in general to our teenagers, so they can learn how to navigate their own triggers and causes of mental health issues.
An injury to the brain
So far, we’ve only listed environmental factors as predictors of mental illness among teens, but it’s also important to consider any biological, physical, or medical issues that could result in poor mental health. Brain injuries, for example, can cause a wide array of mental and emotional irregularities, such as anxiety, mood swings, or depression. Any type of head injury can be a critical influencer to mental illness, and caregivers should be prepared to address their teen’s mental health if an injury has occurred.
Awareness is Key
Mental illness in teens can be triggered by a number of different factors, and being aware of the potential causes can help teens and their families more quickly identify and get the appropriate help. The number one priority, regardless of circumstance or the type of mental illness your teen might be struggling with, is to keep a close eye on your child, watching out for any potential warning signs of mental illness. By quickly identifying and addressing mental health issues and getting the right help early on, you can set your teen up for success throughout their lives.
Is your teen showing signs of mental illness? Are you concerned about their wellbeing? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.
Elliot Figueira is an experienced analyst and journalist with over seven years of experience in digital content creation. Elliot has written for major tech blogs, news and wound care sites. In his mind, one of the best things about writing for a living is the chance to learn new things every single day. Outside of writing, Elliot enjoys science-fiction literature and cultivating various types of cacti.