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As a parent or guardian of a teenager, you are probably extremely aware of the various issues that teenagers face. Some of these issues include bullying, peer pressure, body shaming, and even depressed feelings. However, while some of these issues can be overcome easily enough, some linger and lead to mental health problems that call for treatment.

If you think there are mental health issues your teen might be living with, it is time to take action. They will need as much support as possible during this difficult time, but providing this support can be a tricky task if you are not sure where to start. Taking the first step towards this treatment  journey should always be done together as a parent and child, and below is some helpful advice on how to support your teen with their mental health problems.

Know The Warning Signs

An essential part of supporting someone with a mental health problem is to know and understand the signs. It is important, however, to note that not every symptom points to depression or suicide in teens, and so you should never jump to immediate conclusions about this. Some warning signs that you should look out for and make a note of include meticulous or restrained eating habits, oversleeping or continuous fatigue, and extreme mood swings. If you do notice any alarming or unusual behaviour, speak to your teen about this and ask them if they have any issues they would like to address. Be patient and remember not to push them to talk to you, many teenagers prefer to speak about problems in their own time.

Speak About Your Concerns

While it might feel uncomfortable at first to speak to your teenager about your concerns about their mental health, it is important to be open about the possible red flags you are seeing. When you are pointing out the symptoms that are worrying you, avoid using language such as “crazy” or implying that it is their fault You could mention to them that you have noticed a change in behaviour and ask if they feel overwhelmed by school, peers, or other aspects of their lives. Do not be surprised or angry if your teenager becomes defensive or embarrassed by their behaviour, instead explain to them that you are concerned and would like to help. Some of their actions may require rehabilitation, but they may be too scared to reach out, which is why talking is so important.

Be Open About Mental Illness

Mental health issues can often have a stigma attached to them, and you must help your teenager to understand that these stigmas are untrue and that you, as their parent, do not believe the stigmas. Talking openly about mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts can help to encourage your child to speak up about their experiences. Talking openly and having an open mind about mental illness will help to allay any fears that your teenager may have about how they feel and what they are experiencing. Ignoring mental health problems and pretending that they do not exist will impair the rehabilitation process. Remember not to push the issue too much, or your child might become annoyed, deterring them from speaking to you further.

Identify Who To Talk To

Of course, one of the main people that your teenager can speak to is you, as their parent. Still, if they are interested in rehabilitation or professional help, you will need to identify to them who they can talk to about their mental health issues. Help your teenager to identify at least three trusted adults they can speak to, outside of their parents, about their problems. Ask them who they would speak to if they could not talk to you. While they may prefer suggesting their peers, their peers may not have the wisdom or insight needed to solve serious problems. You could also recommend speaking to a mental healthcare professional if neither of you knows of anyone else that your teenager can talk to. A counsellor or psychologist is trained in dealing with mental health issues and is ideal to contact for help.

Seek Support For The Family

The mental health issues that your teenager is facing could affect your whole family, and seeking professional support for your family can help everyone to deal with the problem positively and constructively. Combining this support with knowledge of the warning signs, an open mind, and the willingness to talk with your teenager will help with the mental health rehabilitation process. Encouraging open dialogue is a highly effective way of supporting your teen with their mental health issues.

Private mental health facilities for adolescents are available at 

Tijger Clinic in Loevenstein 

Helderberg Clinic in Strand

St Catherine’s Life Path Hospital in Pietermaritzburg

Soweto Life Path Health Hospital in Gauteng.


Also read:  What To Expect At A Mental Healthcare Facility For Your Adolescent


If you would like to speak to a professional about any symptoms, please feel free to contact Life Path Health today to find out how we can help you. Call or Whatsapp our 24/7 Helpline on 072 7900 506

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