It can be challenging enough to motivate your teen to perform everyday tasks such as cleaning their room or finishing their homework. So when it comes to critical issues such as mental health, how do you encourage your teen to dump the apathetic persona and understand the importance of mental well-being?
Start by acknowledging that one in five adolescents ages 13 to 18 have a mental health disorder and sadly, mental illness can ultimately end in suicide. In fact, 90 percent of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness, making suicide the third leading cause of death in youth ages 10 to 24. Hence why it’s imperative to take a much larger role in educating youth on their mental health and how to take care of it.
Your mental health is more important than the test, the interview, the lunch date, the meeting, the family dinner, the soccer game, the recital, and the grocery run. Take care of yourself. – Unknown
Below are three things every parent can do to help their teen care about their mental well-being:
Negative feelings and bad days are a part of life. But sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between hormonal teenage emotions and the signs of a mental illness. It’s when negative emotions become chronic and interfere with daily life that educating our youth can save lives.
It can be critical to teach our youth to look for warning signs such as:
- Feelings of anxiety or worry.
- Tantrums and irritability.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Loss of interest.
- Worsening school performance.
- Changes in appetite and weight.
- Has thoughts of suicide.
Encourage Positive Techniques
Not only do food and mood rhyme, but they share a direct correlation with each other. Over-consumption of sugary products can lead to a negative impact on the mood system. Feed your children foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or walnuts, to reap their benefits on the production of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals responsible for our moods). In studies, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce symptoms of various mental disorders, like depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The best thing you can do is to educate yourself and your child, and continue to stay involved in order to stop the stigma surrounding mental illness. Start by actively listening to your child’s concerns. Give them the floor to talk openly and freely about how they’re feeling without passing any judgements. Allow your child to ask questions and feel free to ask them questions in return.
Actively continuing these conversations and staying informed with different resources can be the best tool in overcoming challenges.