Parenting an adolescent is hard on both the parent and teenager. These years are made much harder if the teen is struggling with mental health and substance abuse. While you as a parent may have the best intentions, sometimes only a professional can help fix the rift caused by your teen’s struggles.
To help you and the adolescent in your life work through this difficult time, we’ve compiled a list of resources that you can turn to when professional help seems like the only option.
Reach out to a mental health professional.
If you start to notice behavioral problems in your child’s behavior, such as withdrawing from after-school activities, mood swings, suicidal thoughts, or drug abuse, to mention a few, it may be time to consider seeking out mental health services.
Family therapy counseling is a great and effective way to have the whole family involved in your adolescent’s recovery. Family therapy involves helping the entire family identify how they can support their teen, develop healthy communication skills, take responsibility for one’s emotions, and create open channels to discuss family problems as they arise.
Family counseling is typically facilitated by a mental health professional such as a family counselor, clinical social worker, or family therapist. The goal of family therapy is to create healthy family relationships out of seemingly dysfunctional or disengaged relationships.
Find ways to add balance to your teen’s life.
Regardless of the specific issues that may be giving your teen a difficult time, there are always simple things you can do to help them gain a sense of balance. One of these things is giving them a sense of structure or routine outside of school. Something as simple as having a set bedtime, screentime, or mealtime can be super helpful in creating a sense of balance. This is most effective for teens who live with anxiety because it’ll help them gain a sense of control over some aspect of their lives.
If your teen isn’t involved in or is withdrawing from extracurricular activities, encourage them to get involved in some aspects of school life. This could be a gentle nudge to join the art club, for instance, if they’re artistically gifted. If your teen is isolating themselves, encouraging them to identify service opportunities within the community could also help them meet a community of young adults and provide them with the opportunity to connect with new people.
Certain aspects of high school life can be difficult to navigate, so if your teen is having trouble in school, consider speaking to their school counselor to identify other ways in which they or the high school they attend can intervene. As an example of how the school setting can help with your teen’s personal growth, Student Life Catholic High School is a Catholic high school that offers holistic and whole-person care. What this means is that besides offering academics, it exposes its student body to community service projects that teach its students to give back to their communities.
Reach out to local organizations that support troubled teens.
Nationally, several programs exist to help teenagers who might be facing difficult situations. Identifying some of these programs and helping the adolescent in your life enroll in them is a great way to help them find the help they need. An example of an organization that works with at-risk youth is the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Above all else, take care of yourself, because for you to be the best guardian and parent for your teen, you need to be the best version of yourself. Make self-care a priority and ask for help from your spouse or other family members when you need it.