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The Summit Counseling Center
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Supporting a Teen with a Mental Illness

Julia Montgomery

Young woman with anxiety disorderYour son or daughter was feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and you took them to see a therapist – now what? As your role shifts from being a parent, to parent of a teen struggling with a mental illness, there may be a lot of changes you are experiencing. Your teen has always needed you, but now he or she may need you more than ever – even if he or she doesn’t tell you. Here are a few tips:

  1. Your teen needs your time – regularly put aside time to check in with him or her and schedule time to hang out. You can watch your favorite TV shows together, go to the movies, go to dinner, take walks, read a book in the same room, or pray together.
  2. Be curious – ask your teen what he or she needs or wants from you.
  3. Ask and acknowledge how your teen is feeling. Find ways to let him or her know you care about how they feel, that you want to understand, and that it is okay for them to feel the way they do.
  4. Communicate to your teen that he or she is not alone. Mental illness can make us feel isolated and lonely because it does not always feel like a shared experience. Remind him or her that you are a team!
  5. Practice patience with your teen and yourself – many mental illnesses can cause a person to feel sad or angry and to behave in a way that can make support and patience difficult. Try to be calm and remember that your teen is doing the best he or she can and you are too; we all are.
  6. Take care of yourself. In order to be there for your teen you have to put time into yourself – make sure to take the time to “refill” your heart, body, and mind!
  7. Consider seeking counseling for yourself for extra support during this transition.

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