A PARENT'S GUIDE TO 

Teen Mental Health

In the United States alone, approximately 22% (1 in 5) of teenagers and adolescents were found to have a mental health disorder according to research in 2010.

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Global Impact

More so, only about 11-40% of these teenagers get any useful medical treatment or therapy. And mental health disorders account for up to 16% of the global cause of disease and injuries to people between the ages of 10 and 19. With depression taking the lead and suicide being the third major cause of death globally. In most cases, these teenagers ranging from ages 12 to 18, turn to drugs and substance abuse as a way of coping.

These are the most important formative years of an individual. Overwhelming physical, emotional,  social change and exposure to abuse, violence, absence of family care and poverty are all risk factors that may cause adolescents to develop any number of mental disorders. Often, these conditions include depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD), anxiety and bipolar disorder.

Teens and Substance Abuse

Feeling that something is not right with them, they turn to drugs, alcohol and substance abuse as a getaway. When they do this, they feel more balanced, in tune with the world and able to function normally. However, this solution is short term and very harmful to them in the long run.

Teenagers generally react differently to substance use. Alcohol use, for example, may subdue adults and make them more introspective but it makes teenagers feel more energetic and even aggressive. It may also put them on the edge, making kids with Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder ADHD more prone to suicidal thoughts. These kids eventually get addicted to these substances, making them unable to function normally, disrupting their lives and only making their mental conditions worse.

A very effective treatment for kids with mental health disorders, however, is getting them signed with an adolescent intensive outpatient program (IOP). An IOP is even more effective because it doesn’t disrupt the child’s social or academic life. This allows them to heal while still attending school, meet with friends and function at home. Usually, an intense critical examination is done to ensure that an intensive outpatient program is best suited to them and decide which conditions or disorders they have and how to best manage it.

Treatments

Useful for treatment of moderate to the highest levels of mental disorders, the IOP therapy does more than a teen outpatient counseling. It provides more adequate structure and the treatment program puts them in small treatment teams which exposes them to several forms of therapy proven to work with teens.

This partial hospitalization program is evidence-based as it is proven to be very effective in the treatment of these disorders in children. It may place them in a therapy group with their peers; a group small enough to be efficient yet allow each child’s individual needs met.

The peer therapy group allows the children to understand what their age-mates are going through as they support each other and get better prepared for the outside world. This is done with the help of a Mental Health Professional. Other treatment forms may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): A talking therapy where a professional helps an individual sort through their thoughts, manage their negative thought patterns, change the way they behave and think, and improve the way they feel.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): this is also a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy where a professional teaches an individual a healthy way to cope without turning to substance abuse. These teenagers and adolescents will also learn to live happily in the moment, deal with stress in their environment, improve their relationship with other people as well as regulate their emotions efficiently.

Family Therapy Participation: It is important for a kid with a mental health disorder to understand and feel loved, especially by their families. This is why they are encouraged to participate in family therapy. This mental health treatment approach not only helps the adolescent child, but it also helps the family understand how they can better help the adolescent in the long-term.

Art Therapy is an approach where the individual is allowed to be expressive through a preferred art medium. They are allowed to paint or play the piano and be deeply expressive as an alternative and healthy solution.

It is very important for the family of the child to use an appropriate treatment center or facility. One that is able to properly assess the child’s conditions and assign very qualified professionals to attend to the child’s particular needs. While several children may exhibit the same mental condition, the treatments may very well differ as there is no solve-all treatment.

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