THE SOURCE: IT'S OK TO ASK

Why should I care?

WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Raising a teenager can seem impossible. One minute they’re happy and the next minute you are in full-blown battle with them. Instead of looking at teenagers as defiant, lazy or having an attitude, try to hear what they really mean to say.

Teenagers say a variety of things to express their feelings, such as:

  • I don’t care about school, it doesn’t matter.
  • I hate my friends, they don’t matter.
  • Mr. Yoder just has it out for me. He is the worst teacher.
  • You don’t care.
  • I hate life.
  • I just want to die.

It can be easy as a parent to list off all the reasons why school does matter, why their friends really don’t hate them or that life is hard. BUT! If we look at what our teen is really saying, we can often help them process their feelings in a better way.

Source of Feelings

Try to think of some recent situations that may be causing your teen to feel this way:

Z

Is your teen trying to prove their independence?

Z

Were they not included in an activity by their friends?

Z

Has your teen been bullied or cyber-bullied on social media?

Z

Did your teen recently fail a test or an assignment?

Z

Did they not reach a goal they wanted to?

Z

Has your teen recently experienced a traumatic event?

Z

Is there something reminding them of a past time in life that was difficult?

Z

What else is happening in your teen’s life that could be causing stress or confusion?

Helpful Conversation Starters

Take time to start a conversation with your teen.

  1. Listen to what the teen is saying and make sure you understand what he is trying to communicate.
  2. Invite the teen to tell you more about what happened, what she was thinking while it happened and how she was feeling.
  3. Let the teen know that you care about how he feels and will support him in finding ways to feel better.
  4. Encourage the teen to ask you questions and praise her for talking with you about hard subjects.

 

Even though teenagers may act like they are fully grown, they are not.

Their brains are still developing, especially in the frontal cortex region. Your teen is doing their best in a landscape that changes inside and out.

Check out this graphic on teen brain development put together by The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

For some teenagers, this could include mental health challenge that needs some attention. Some of the things your teen is expressing can be an indication that there might be something deeper going on than typical adolescent development.

One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; three-quarters by age 24 (Kessler, R.C, et al., 2005). So if this is the case for you and your teen, you are not alone.

Mental Health Concerns

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, mental health may be a concern if your teen:

Z

Often feels anxious or worried

Z

Has very frequent outbursts or is intensely irritable much of the time

Z

Has frequent stomach aches or headaches with no physical explanation

Z

Is in constant motion, can’t sit quietly for any length of time

Z

Has trouble sleeping or frequent nightmares

Z

Loses interest in things you used to enjoy

Z

Avoids spending time with friends

Z

Has trouble doing well in school or grades decline

Z

Fears gaining weight, exercises or diets obsessively

Z

Has low or no energy

Z

Has spells of intense, inexhaustible activity

Z

Harms him/herself, such as cutting or burning his/her skin

Z

Engages in risky, destructive behavior

Z

Harms him/herself or others

Z

Smokes, drinks, or uses drugs

Z

Has thoughts of suicide

Z

Thinks his/her mind is controlled or out of control, hears voices

When to Ask for Help

If your teen says they do not want to live, expresses suicidal thoughts in another way, or you have other reasons making you concerned for the teen’s safety or the safety of others, take it seriously. Here are Warning Signs identified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

You can even print the warning signs out to carry with you, click here for English and click here for Spanish.

If your teen needs immediate help, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Do not leave your teen alone until you get help.

If you are unsure how to help your teen, reach out and ask. Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org online.

Or, you can text the word ‘Help’ to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line or call Oaklawn at 574-533-1234.

Who to Ask for Help

It’s not easy to ask for help. It can be difficult or uncomfortable to share our thoughts and feelings but try to find one person that you can be open and honest with. Life can come at us fast and we have to know when to ask for help.

Z

Contact your school’s guidance counselor or teachers to see if they have noticed any changes in the teen’s behavior.

Z

Talk to your primary doctor about teen development and your teen’s specific situation.

Z

Think about any traumatic experiences your teen may have had and mention those to your doctor.

(Abuse, car accidents, violence, robbery, parent in jail). Even if one of those things happened a long time ago, your teen may be having new thoughts or feelings about it.

Z

Talk to a faith leader or someone in your community that knows about services available.

And remember, IT’S OK TO ASK!

The Source • Youth Mental Health Network

MORE RESOURCES

There are a lot of places in your city that can help, too. 
Here is a list of some community resources
.

IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY CALL 911 or GO TO NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM

For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255 or text the word ‘home’ to 741741 for Crisis Text Line.

IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY CALL 911 or GO TO NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM

For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255 or text the word ‘home’ to 741741 for Crisis Text Line.

CONTACT US

Thank you for messaging us

We do not monitor these messages 24/7, so if this is an emergency and you need immediate assistance, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

If you need someone to talk to, text “Help” to 741741, or call 1-800-273-8255.