About 17 percent of children and adolescents suffer from a mental health disorder, according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. Mental disorders affect a person’s mood, behaviour and thinking – and symptoms may include depression, eating disorders and a general state of anxiety. This can be exacerbated by the myriad of bodily changes teenagers experience during puberty. The truth is, many parents either fail to notice when their kids need help, or more often, they don’t know how to deal with the situation.
World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October, so we’ve put together a short guide on what to look out for.
Read the warning signals
Even if your teen isn’t always vocal about their feelings, there are nonverbal cues to look out for. For example, if your teen is overly meticulous about their diet or tries to skip meals, these may be early signs of an eating disorder. Other signs to watch out for are extreme mood swings, oversleeping or a constant state of exhaustion. Also, be aware that long sleeves or bandages can point to self-harm. Read more about how to detect early warning signs of depression in your teen.
Learn more about mental illnesses
Mental health disorders should not be a taboo topic in your home, and you should encourage your teen to speak to you when they are feeling overwhelmed. By educating yourself about these conditions you will understand what to look out for and be better able to help a struggling youngster.
Speak about it openly
The more comfortable you are with the topic, the more likely they are to speak about their inner world and ask for your support. This also gets rid of the stigma and silence surrounding these issues.
Provide practical support
Go and watch their tennis game, go for a walk after Sunday’s lunch or encourage them to participate in extramural activities. Perhaps they want to learn how to paint or cook, or even more important life lessons, such as learning how to drive.
If you do decide to teach your youngster to drive, it’s equally important for you to have comprehensive car insurance as it is to teach your child the importance of insurance. So, apply for an online insurance quote to get the best deal today. And if you’re still concerned about a youngster, reach out and contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on the toll free number 0800 12 13 14, today. Help is at hand.