Adolescence and young adulthood can be a challenging time emotionally. You are facing a lot of changes in thinking capacities, behavior and identity, and you’re probably experiencing confusion, peer pressure and emotional turbulence. Since emotional ups and downs are so common during this time, it can be hard for older adults to recognize mental health problems in children, teens and young adults.
Another reason that it’s difficult for parents to recognize signs of mental illness in their children is because these signs can be difficult to distinguish from ordinary behavior that happens as you are growing up. Some parents are reluctant to let teens get mental help because they don’t want to admit there is a problem.
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Signs of Mental Health Problems
You may feel that you are having experiences and feelings that don’t feel normal. Here are some signs and symptoms of mental health problems:
- Feeling extremely sad, anxious or worried
- Feeling hopeless or having thoughts of suicide
- Feeling lonely
- Spending more time alone
- Having trouble sleeping or having frequent nightmares
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Coping by using alcohol or drugs
- Binge eating, dieting obsessively or fearing weight gain
While it’s not abnormal to experience a wide range of overwhelming emotions during adolescence, it may be a sign of a problem if you have persistent symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day activities and affect how you think, feel and behave. Mental health disorders are treatable, but they are likely to get worse if they are not treated.
Talking to Your Parents
If you believe you may have a mental health disorder, talk to your parents. Let them know that you think you need help. Your parents may listen to your concerns, or they may try to tell you there isn’t anything wrong with you.
A lot of young people are reluctant to try to talk to their parents at all about this. It can be hard to tell your parents you’re facing really big challenges. Choose a time they are not busy and things are quiet. Tell them what’s happening and how it’s affecting you. For example, let them know you are having trouble going to school at all or that your grades are being affected or that you can’t sleep without having disturbing dreams.
There are several reasons parents may try to discourage you from getting help for mental health concerns. They may be concerned about stigma. They may be taking the approach that you will grow out of it, or that if they ignore the problem it will go away. Sometimes parents simply don’t understand what their child is trying to tell them when it comes to suggesting that mental help may be needed. It’s important to be persistent and keep trying to get through to them.
Options for Help
If you believe you have a mental health condition, don’t give up on trying to get help. If your parents continue to ignore you or tell you that everything is fine, talk to another adult, such as an aunt, uncle, teacher or minister. You may want to try to talk to your doctor or a school nurse or psychologist to advocate for you.
If you are having thoughts of suicide and your parents are not listening, get help immediately by calling 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255. This line is available around the clock.
Mental health disorders aren’t likely to go away and may worsen quite a bit if they are not treated. Keep trying to talk to your parents or other adults so you can get the help you need. For more information about our treatment programs for young adults, call us at (310) 455-5258 or submit the form below.