Resources for parents of at-risk and troubled teens.



November 2010

Teen Mental Health – Look for the Warning Signs

by Staff, on at risk youth, mental health, mental health warning signs, teen mental health, teen mental health problems, teen mental health warning signs

We all know that teens have their own world filled with their own worries. They worry about school, worry about their friends and their relationships, and they worry about upcoming life decisions which involve themselves and their family. These are all normal things for a teenager and they can’t be avoided, but in some cases teens don’t know how to cope with these issues and that may lead to depression, sadness, extreme hopelessness or a feeling of low self worth and other mental health issues.

Mental health issues can be as painful as a punch or physical wound, some of them can leave far greater side effects than any wound can. They can lead to your teen failing in school, losing his friends and to conflicts with the family members. Each of these issues has warning signs, mental health warning signs that we can look out for. It is our jobs as parents to protect our children and to help them, so it is our job to look for these teen mental health warning signs.

There are many things to look for, the most important thing to remember that each of these signs individually probably means nothing, they can be normal, but if combined with several others of these warning signs it is time for you to step up and offer help. It is normal for our teens to be angry or to overreact, that is what teens do, but when you notice that they are feeling depressed, worthless, overly guilty, anxious that is where you need to start worrying.

We all feel grief when someone dies, but if that grief lasts for a long time we should pay attention. Also with things like unexplained fears and irrational thoughts it is time to talk to our children and maybe offer our help or even professional help.

These are all teen mental health problem warning signs, but it is not only important to know what they are, but when to look for these signs. Certain changes in teen’s life may lead to these situations like a drop in academic performance, losing interest in things once loved, changes in sleeping patterns and eating habits as well as avoiding his old friends.

Other warning signs and situations to watch out for include:

-    Lack of concentration
-    Poor judgment
-    Lack of focus and attention
-    Irrational fears
-    Compulsive behavior
-    Constant nightmares
-    Alcohol and drug abuse
-    Eats too much, or nothing at all
-    Forces him or herself to vomit
-    Extreme workouts and diets
-    Destroying things and other people’s property
-    Breaks the law
-    Or engages in life threatening activities

If these teen mental health warning signs appear you should consult with your family members, teachers, school counselor or even your family doctor, a professional psychologist or a social worker. In some cases parent’s attention and help is all that is needed, but in some cases professional help may be necessary. Staff