Preventing mental health issues in youth
If you’ve ever wondered how to prevent mental health issues in youth, there are several ways you can support this cause. However, being an advocate for youth mental health will require you to understand what the most common mental health issues in youth are. And of course how to approach them.
Among the most recurring mental health issues in youth are anxiety, depression, ADHD, and behavioural issues. It’s important that people learn about each of these issues. Also, we need to learn how to encourage both children and teenagers to seek help. After all, the current discussion around youth mental health issues is an important one.
In this post, we’ll be covering how to prevent mental health issues in youth. We will also cover what may cause them, and where to find the right resources.
What can contribute to mental health issues in youth?
It’s not uncommon to believe that mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression, only involve genetic factors. Yet, certain factors – such as specific events a person experiences early in life – may contribute to the development and worsening of these mental health issues. These factors include:
A history of abuse and neglect
Abuse and neglect during childhood can result in deep-rooted trauma. If this trauma isn’t addressed early on, children who grew up in an abusive environment may develop impaired social-emotional skills throughout life. Social isolation, a negative self-image, and a lack of affection are just a few examples of how abuse and neglect can manifest in someone’s later years.
Experiencing discrimination in social settings
Common in the youth LGBT communities, discrimination at school, work, and even at home can contribute to dysfunctional beliefs. Such beliefs involve thinking one isn’t enough, doubting one’s abilities, and even questioning one’s values in society. Recurring oppression is enough to harm a young person’s mental health. And, if not addressed, this can be the source of lifelong distress.
Stress due to school
School and college are some of the places where children and teenagers will experience the most pressure during youth. Not only do they feel the need to fit in, but they’re often pressured to perform their best during trying times. It’s no wonder that kids whose self-concept used to be seemingly ideal develop confidence issues as soon as they enter school. Schools are doing better in supporting student’s mental health. But there is still a lot we can do to help young people.
How to prevent mental health issues in youth as a parent or friend
As a caring parent or friend, you can prevent mental health issues and encourage a healthy recovery by:
Promoting healthy habits
Children and teenagers are very suggestible and influenced by their environment. This is why so much of what happens early in their lives shapes their later character. For this reason, promoting habits such as healthy eating, exercising, and talking about their feelings is an essential task for parents and caregivers.
Checking on young people regularly
Although you don’t have to pressure them into telling you what’s wrong, it’s always good to ask how kids are feeling. Especially when something seems wrong. Even if they tell you there’s nothing wrong, you could always say something along the lines of “Okay. I’m always here if you need to talk about anything.”
This simple thing helps to communicate that you are open and supportive of their needs. It may also increase the chance they come to you with a problem in the future.
Normalising talking about emotions
The conversation around emotions can be “taboo” for some families. It shouldn’t be that way. Adults should train themselves to be open to this kind of talk. Further, we need to understand the motivation behind emotional distress. There are several online resources available for this purpose, and the Youth Mental Health First Aid course is one of them.
Watching carefully for any warning signs
Has your child been acting differently? Have their mood swings become frequent? Have you noticed any changes in their social behaviour?
These are a few of the many signs you should observe when considering if a child needs mental health support. It’s extremely important that you monitor those signs. Young people may not be aware of their own situation. They need people around them keeping an eye out.
Letting them know you love them and accept them the way they are
When kids feel like they’re loved, accepted, and supported, they have fewer reasons to fear the world. Whatever happens out there, they know they’ll come home to a supportive family that will make sure to meet their essential needs. Love and acceptance are the most essential needs of all. We want to make sure they know that this applies even if they do experience mental health problems.
Encouraging the use of support services, if needed
Adults should come to terms with the fact that some teenagers prefer to figure things out by themselves. And that’s completely fine. As long as they have the right resources available to them, they’ll be able to understand more about their own issues – including how to find the help they need.
As adults, we can also be proactive in encouraging young people to access supports. This can be one of the most effective ways to support someone.
Don’t worry if you’re thinking that sounds difficult. You aren’t alone! In the Youth Mental Health First Aid course, we learn exactly how to do this.
Signs a child or adolescent may need mental health support
It’s essential to watch out for signs and symptoms of mental health issues in youth. Noticing the following signs early on can prevent a child’s mental health from worsening:
Difficulty focusing on their daily tasks
Poor performance at school or college isn’t only a sign of poor studying. In fact, emotional turmoil is a completely logical reason for low concentration. Therefore, instead of calling young people out for their low grades or apparent laziness, be sure to ask them what may be causing it and if they need any support.
Taking their anger and sadness out on the people around them
It’s easy to be mad at children and teens or even ground them when they seem to be having a tantrum. But have you wondered where that behaviour is coming from? Be sure to have a kind, meaningful, and non-judgemental conversation with them about it. Remind yourself that, however unexpected, strange behaviour never starts for no reason.
Changing their sleeping and eating habits
If you notice that they’re eating a lot less or a lot more than they’re used to, or if their sleep schedule has changed abnormally, you should pay attention. Disorders like depression and anxiety are known for causing drastic changes in sleeping and eating habits. It’s for this reason that it’s important to have a conversation about potential factors.
Talking about harming themselves in any way
Even if jokingly, it’s never okay to ignore someone talking about self-harm or suicide. Because this is a serious matter, it should be immediately addressed when brought up. Even if a teenager dismissed the saying as a joke, watch out for recurring instances.
Seeking treatment for mental health issues
Sometimes, we aren’t able to prevent mental health issues in youth. But it’s never too late to seek the right treatment options for an effective, lifelong recovery.
When looking for treatment options, it’s a good idea to explore different alternatives. Everyone is different, and there may be choices that are more or less fitting for certain people. There are several treatment centre options available for immediate contact, all of which we’ve listed in our blog, Mental health organisations for youth.
How can a Youth Mental Health First Aid course assist?
Mental health courses like the Youth Mental Health First Aid Course are accessible resources for adults who wish to help young people to manage their psychological issues. Adults who live with, care for or work with young people – family members, friends, babysitters, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, school staff – will benefit from this training.
Because they’re delivered flexibly, the courses can fit any schedule, delivering evidence-based training that can be readily applied in day-to-day life.
Enrol in a Youth Mental Health First Aid course today
It’s possible to prevent mental health issues becoming a bigger problem. Even if they do, there are ways to appease the consequences of mental disorders and take the right steps toward recovery.
The Youth Mental Health First Aid course can help by giving you clear instructions on understanding youth development, as well as which symptoms you should be mindful of and whether an intervention is required.
Receiving proper training can help you save and improve the life of a young person. Enrol today to become an advocate for youth mental health.