3 Ways to Support Teens with Mental Illnesses


Growing up is tough, and coping with a mental illness doesn’t make it any easier. Because teen brains are still developing, you can’t always expect them to make the most rational decisions. Adolescents handle situations much differently than adults.

You may be struggling with your loved one’s behavior. Receiving the diagnosis, therefore, can be a tremendous relief and a tremendous burden. Now you know you and your loved one are not alone, you know it’s not just a phase, and you can begin to understand your loved one’s condition. At the same time, knowing it’s a condition in itself is scary, you have a whole new set of fears for your child, and knowing that you have a long journey ahead of you is daunting.

But there is hope! There are many ways you can help your child, yourself, and others around you transition your lifestyles to accommodate this new and difficult change.

Learn More About Mental Illness

portrait of european mother and daughterYour adolescent has been diagnosed with a mental illness.

Your lives are about to change, but that doesn’t need to be a bad thing. If you have a general idea of what to expect, you’ll be better prepared to deal with the future and, thus, less stressed when situations arise.

Talk with your child’s doctor. Specialists often have more information available on specific conditions in pamphlet form. They can also direct you to other reliable resources that will provide you with the insight you need to understand your adolescent’s condition and how you can help.

Talk to other parents whose teens are going through similar situations. Consider attending support groups with your loved one or groups targeted specifically for parents of adolescents dealing with mental health issues.

Reevaluate Expectations About Teens with Mental Illness

It’s important to recognize that many adolescents with mental illnesses may not be capable of performing as much or as well as their peers. Acknowledging your loved one is putting forth the effort to perform well in school may help boost self-esteem. Also consider dividing household chores among all your kids, as well as you and your spouse, so your teen feels less pressured.

Be fair in discipline. Be aware that teens with mental illnesses are less capable of controlling mood swings or other behaviors than others their age.

Meet with Your Child’s Teachers and Support Staff

best-friends-381984_640The doctors are doing everything they can to help you and your adolescent. But it’s important to inform your loved one’s teachers and other school authorities of your teen’s mental health condition. These are the people who impose and carry out discipline for students. Understanding the characteristics of your child’s condition allows them to make better decisions and, if necessary, enforce constructive discipline rather than destructive discipline. Likewise, knowing your adolescent’s mental health condition can also help teachers react appropriately if your child acts out in the classroom.

In addition to knowing how you can support your adolescent during this crucial time, it’s also important to get the care your child deserves. That’s exactly why we’re here. The Light Program is designed to provide quality care for you and your loved one experiencing a mental health illness. Reach us by phone or online contact form to see how our intensive outpatient treatment services can benefit your adolescent today.