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Let's Talk About Teen Mental Health

Dear Friends:

Given some recent events, I was researching and found an article entitled, "Mental Health and Teens: Watch for Danger Signs".  The link to the full article is below. Because it has some really important information, I thought I'd share it with you and hope you will share it with your friends and family too!

We all know that adolescence isn’t an easy time for parents. As children move through the various transitions that accompany adolescence — physical, emotional, hormonal, sexual, social, intellectual — the pressures and problems they encounter can all too easily seem overwhelming. The article notes that for many teenagers, these and other pressures can lead to one or more of a variety of mental health disorders; all are matters of concern, and some are even life-threatening. 

It offers some key tips for parents and the rest of us too:

Keep communication constant, open, and honest: Your children should not only know that they can talk to you about anything, you have to be committed to broaching topics of concern and do so openly. 

Understand that mental health disorders are treatable: Arm yourself with information about the most common mental health disorders among adolescents; speak with your child’s pediatrician, your local health department, your religious leader, and your child’s school representatives about what sorts of information are available from them.

Be attentive to your teen’s behavior: Adolescence is, indeed, a time of transition and change, but severe, dramatic, or abrupt changes in behavior can be strong indicators of serious mental health issues.

The article also lists some "Red Flags”:

- Excessive sleeping, beyond usual teenage fatigue, which could indicate depression or substance abuse; difficulty in sleeping, insomnia, and other sleep disorders

- Loss of self-esteem

- Abandonment or loss of interest in favorite pastimes

- Unexpected and dramatic decline of academic performance

- Weight loss and loss of appetite

- Personality shifts and changes, such as aggressiveness and excess anger that are sharply out of character 

- In addition to peer pressure, mental health issues can lead adolescents not just to experiment with alcohol and drugs, but also to use substances for “self-medication.” 

The article recommends that concern about your adolescent’s mental health should first be addressed with your child — fostering open communication goes a long way toward fostering sound adolescent mental health habits. Then, if your concerns are serious, discuss them with your pediatrician as well as health care and other professionals. 

As a community of faith, please know how important your family is to us - and count on us to walk the journey with you especially if you have teens. While there are never any easy answers to the complicated challenges of life, knowing that others are there with you can help even in the most challenging of times.

And as always, please never hesitate to contact me if any of us here at St Teresa's can help in any way.



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