Adolescence can be a tumultuous time complicated by hormonal changes, academic pressures, social challenges, and the quest for self-identity.
These factors, combined with the pervasive influence of digital technology and social media, have the potential to lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, such as eating disorders and substance abuse. That is why it is crucial for parents, caregivers and educators to recognize the signs of distress and offer tools that can help teens express and regulate their emotions in a healthy way.
The number of adolescents reporting poor mental health is increasing, according to a report released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 2021, more than 4 in 10 students felt persistently sad or hopeless and nearly one third experienced poor mental health. Moreover, more than 1 in 5 students seriously considered attempting suicide and 1 in 10 did attempt to take their own lives.
The situation is even more dire among teenage girls, nearly 3 in 5 teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021. This is double that of boys and represents a nearly 60% increase and the highest level reported over the past decade, according to the CDC.
It can often be hard for adults to differentiate between what is normal teenage angst and signs that a teenager may be struggling with their mental health. Some common indicators that your teen may need help include:
– Not wanting to go to school or avoiding school.
– Withdrawal and isolation from family and friends.
– A noticeable drop in grades.
– Complaints of headaches and stomach aches, which may be related to depression or anxiety.
– Changes in sleep patterns, such as staying up all night or sleeping too much.
– Not enjoying activities they used to enjoy.
– Constantly scrolling on social media.
– Changes in appetite or significant weight loss or weight gain without an apparent cause.
– Engaging in risky activities or substance abuse.
– Persistent sadness or irritability.
– Expressing thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
If you are concerned your teen might be experiencing a mental health issue, it’s important to talk with them. Professional help might be necessary to help them build effective coping skills.
For information about Penn Medicine Princeton House Behavioral Health programs for children and adolescents, call (888) 437-1610 or visit PrincetonHouse.org.