It’s common for high school students to experience mental health struggles, and just as common for them to avoid seeking help. However, it can be difficult for parents who aren’t experts in psychology or psychiatry to identify warning signs that their child may need help. That’s why parents should be proactive about finding ways to check in with their children and provide them with the tools they need to cope if something traumatic should occur. If you want to learn more, keep reading for some tips for parents who want to help their high school student take better care of their mental health.
How can you help your high school student with their mental health?
Parents who suspect their child may be suffering from a mental health condition or have a child who has gone through a traumatic event should look into family therapy. Even if the trauma was primarily experienced by your child, the entire family should be a part of the healing process. You can find a therapist and attend family counseling on its own, or you can use family counseling as a part of a more comprehensive treatment plan. It’s a good idea to talk to a therapist or counseling center you trust to ask questions and find the best solution for your individual needs.
School can often be a significant stressor for teenagers. If you notice that your child is struggling academically or has anxiety about the college admissions process, you may want to look for ways you can give them some support. There are professional services that can help empower admissions and give your child help to get into their dream school. In many cases, stress comes from not having a plan to achieve the things you want to achieve, which is a problem you can help your child solve.
Though you may think you’re doing your child a favor by being overprotective, you can actually do more harm than good. It can lead to serious and lifelong consequences like risk aversion, overdependence on parents, increased risk for psychological disorders, a lack of coping mechanisms, and chronic anxiety. It may feel like you have your child’s best interests at heart, but you need to let them explore and develop on their own.
What else can you do to help your child manage stress?
One great way to reduce stress is to spend more time in nature. There is research that suggests even just spending 20 minutes outside can actually have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. In one small study, 36 people spent at least 10 minutes a day outdoors in a place where they could interact with nature for eight weeks. The results demonstrated that even just 20 to 30 minutes in nature produced a significant drop in cortisol levels, which is a major stress hormone.
You should also encourage your children to find creative outlets for their feelings. This can be art, creative writing, music, or even scientific pursuits like robot building or coding. What outlet they choose is less important than the fact that they have one. It’s essential that you don’t make these hobbies a source of stress or put pressure on them to excel but allow them to have some activities that they can simply enjoy as a source of recreation or relaxation.
Identifying the symptoms of a mental health condition can be hard, especially for those without experience in the field. In many cases, your teenager may not even realize that there are resources and treatments available to them that can help. You should make sure your children know that you want to help and that you’re there if they want to ask questions or talk to a professional about any issues they’re having. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for any mental health issue, but expert guidance and family support can make a huge difference for teenagers who need help.