Guest Post by Foundations Family Therapy
Teen depression and anxiety are on the rise. As you may have seen in your own home with your children, the COVID pandemic had far more reaching effects than just physical isolation.
In fact, The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 1 in 3 teens have had at least one major depressive or clinical anxiety episode within the past 12 months.
So how do you talk to your teen about counseling and mental health in a world full of stigma, peer pressure, and judgment?
1. Discuss Normal Emotions
Teens begin to “try on” different values and question why they believe the things they believe. This is a time of great potential but also a time of great stress. Talk to your children about changes. From hormones to social pressures, teens can experience a wide range of emotions each day. Talk to them to help normalize the conversation around how they’re feeling.
2. Help them guard their heart and mind
Be aware of what you are putting into your brain. What social media accounts are they following? Who are their friends? What type of music are they listening to? What goes into our mind is often what comes out of our mouths and actions. Human nature shows us that we slowly become what we are most familiar with. If they are inputting positive messages, encouraging friends, and uplifting music, we are more likely to feel that and become that.
3. Prioritize what they can control
We often get overwhelmed. Many of the things that overwhelm us feel really big or even outside our control. Instead, help you teen write down 2 lists. One list is things they can control and the other list is things outside of their control. While looking at the list of things you can control prioritize what needs to be done. If a task feels overwhelming, break it up into smaller pieces to get that sense of accomplishment. Sometimes we are tempted to spend our energy on things that we have no control over. Instead, focus on things they can control and what is most important to them.
4. Facilitate Good Support
It is important for teen to find someone who they can be themselves around and share their feelings with. It is important to find someone where they can share their happy feelings and sad feelings. We suggest finding someone who is older than them and can support appropriately support them. It could be a church leader, coach, or teacher.
5. Practice Positive Thought Initiation
Often our thinking can turn into patterns. Sometimes we fall into negative thinking patterns. Instead, have your teen take a notecard and write 5 things on there that make them happy. This could be something from their past, an item, a future plan, or person. Next to each of those things write what makes them happy about those things and all the details they can think of. Then, set an alarm and 3 times a day and have them pull out their notecard and think about one or more of those things.
Foundations Family Therapy can help serve your teens experiencing anxiety. We will be starting a teen girls group this September in our Fuquay office for 6 weeks to help teen girls live courageously and confidently. Please visit our website to learn more about our services! Foundationsft.com