skip to Main Content

Teen Mental Health: 7 Tips for Talking to Your Kids


Navigating the complexities of teen mental health can be challenging for any parent. With rising concerns over teen depression, anxiety, and substance use, fostering open and supportive communication is more crucial than ever. 

Understanding the Prevalence of Teen Mental Health Issues

The Reality of Teen Depression

According to Mental Health America, approximately 11.5% of youth in the United States report experiencing a major depressive episode in a given year. This statistic is a stark reminder of the prevalence of mental health challenges among teens and the importance of recognizing the signs early on.

Substance Use Among Teens

The national average for youth with substance use disorder stands at 6.34%. This significant figure indicates that a considerable portion of the youth population struggles with substance abuse alongside mental health issues, emphasizing the need for open dialogues about the dangers of substance use and its impact on mental well-being.

The Importance of Early Intervention

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14, and 75% begin by age 24. This underscores the critical need for early intervention. 

7 Strategies for Talking to Your Teen About Mental Health

1. Create an Open Environment

Start by fostering an environment where mental health is openly discussed. This doesn’t mean forcing conversations but rather integrating mental well-being into everyday discussions. Show that it’s okay to talk about feelings, challenges, and mental health without judgment. This openness can make it easier for your teen to come forward when they’re struggling.

Click here for some tips on how to model social-emotional learning at home. 

2. Educate Yourself and Your Teen

Understanding mental health issues and their symptoms can demystify these conditions for both you and your teen. Use reputable sources to educate yourself about the signs of depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and other mental health challenges. Share this knowledge with your teen in a way that’s informative and empowering, not fear-inducing.

3. Listen Actively

When your teen does open up, listen more than you speak. Active listening involves acknowledging their feelings, asking open-ended questions, and avoiding immediate judgments or solutions. Sometimes, the act of listening is more powerful than any advice you could offer.

4. Recognize the Signs

Be aware of changes in behavior, mood, or personality that could indicate mental health issues. Withdrawal from social activities, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, unexplained decline in academic performance, and increased irritability or sadness are just a few signs that your teen might be struggling.

5. Encourage Healthy Habits

Promote a lifestyle that supports mental health, including regular physical activity, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and healthy stress-relief activities. Encourage your teen to engage in hobbies and interests that boost their mood and self-esteem.

6. Discuss the Role of Substance Use

With a significant portion of the youth population struggling with substance abuse alongside mental health issues, it’s important to have honest conversations about the impact of drugs and alcohol on mental health. Discuss the risks and how substance use can exacerbate mental health problems.

7. Seek Professional Help

Emphasize that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Early diagnosis and appropriate services can significantly improve the quality of life for teens with mental health issues. If you notice signs of distress in your teen, don’t hesitate to reach out to mental health professionals.

Click here to explore a list of our trusted community resources.

Let’s Navigate This Journey Together

At Mile High Psychiatry, we understand the complexities of teen mental health and the importance of early intervention. Our dedicated team is here to serve as a partner in navigating these challenges, offering comprehensive support and accessible services tailored to meet the needs of your family. 

With our expertise in telepsychiatry, we break down geographical barriers, ensuring that quality mental health care is within reach for every teen and their family. 

Whether you’re seeking guidance on how to initiate conversations about mental health, looking for strategies to support your teen, or in need of professional mental health services, Mile High Psychiatry is your ally. 

Reach out to us today, and let’s take the first step toward a brighter future for your teen.

Back To Top