Mental health awareness is better than it was 10 years ago but there is still more work that needs to be done.
Mental health is constantly being talked about at the moment, especially when it comes to teenagers. What is staggering though is the number of teens who are struggling and the number of parents who are not aware of the problem.
It is a ticking timebomb and one issue that is not going to go away, unfortunately.
Mental health is one illness that many still won't admit to suffering from due to stigmas and myths regarding it.
In fairness, mental health awareness is better than it was 10 years ago but there is still more work to be done. Mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of and considering them as such only delays a teenager’s access to mental health services and help.
Expert care is needed if your teenager is suffering from mental health issues and it is vital that parents remember that it is not their fault.
As parents, it is imperative that we recognise changes in our teenager’s behaviour and pay attention. Warning signs of mental health illness include sudden changes in behaviour including bad sleeping habits, poor eating habits, physical pain or illness, moodiness, sudden isolation and/or lack of interest in life, school or friends to name a few.
Getting help is the most important step and it is vital you support your teenager on their trip to the doctor and get them the help the need. There is no hiding away from it; statistics show a mental health problem as a teenager has every chance of becoming a life-long condition.
Getting your teen the help they need will ensure they respond well and manage their issues effectively.
Unfortunately, however, mental health waiting times are frustratingly long. Recent statistics reported in the Irish Daily Mail stated that almost 300 children are being forced to wait more than a year for their first appointment, according to HSE figures. There are significant reports that 2,000 young people are currently on waiting lists.
According to findings in the ‘My World’ National Survey of Youth Mental Health, it found almost one in three young people had at one time experienced mental health difficulties (Headstrong and UCD School of
Psychology, 2012). Furthermore, this study found these difficulties began in early adolescence and peaked in late teens and early twenties.
This proves why parents need to be aware of mental health problems from the time your children are born. Thankfully, parents can be active in promoting mental, emotional and social wellbeing at home and encourage teenagers to find strategies to cope.
Fundamentally, parents need to recognise that teenagers are “at risk” and recognise the need for education on mental health.
Teenagers are more stressed than ever before and parents need to collaborate with schools, doctors and their teen to ensure that mental health is addressed and proactively given attention if needs be.
Emma Hayes is a thirty-something mum of two girls aged 16 and 10, planting her right into the teenage and tween-age years! Follow her on Twitter at @EmmaHayes25.