Reassure your teenA teen in crisis can often feel like it is them versus the world. Reassure your teen that you are on their side and there for them. As your teen gets treatment for the concerns they are facing, you can demonstrate to them that you are, in fact, in their corner. Let your teen know that you love them, support them, and that you’ll get through these difficulties together as a family. Initial reactions may not be as warm as you’re hoping for, and a teen in crisis is likely to respond with anger and doubt to anything most people say to him. All you can do is keep demonstrating to him that you are by his side. Be sure to get everyone in the family involved. Everyone should feel confident that they will be heard and have value.
Start the important conversationsIt’s not an easy conversation to start, but it’s an important one—mental health. Whether you’re familiar with the mental health concerns your teen is facing or it’s entirely new for you, starting that conversation is essential. Not only does it let your teen know that what he’s feeling doesn’t make him a problem, but it’s the first step in getting him the help that he needs to heal. If there is a family history of mental health concerns, share some details with your teen. This can help to remove some of the stigmas he may be feeling about what he’s experiencing. Normalize mental health concerns, normalize mental wellness, and listen to what he says about his thoughts and feelings. Starting those conversations opens the doors for a teen who may need to come to you when things are at a tipping point.
Recognizing red flags in your teenHow can you tell when your teen needs help? There are several potential red flags to be on the lookout for:
- An unusual drop in grades, along with refusing to finish homework.
- Skipping school entirely.
- Refusing to do his household chores.
- Withdrawing from family and friends.
- Threatening physical harm to siblings, parents, and peers.
- Lack of concern for consequences or any authority.
- Inability to control temper.
- Any signs of substance abuse.
- A disregard for personal safety with sexual relationships.
When it’s time to get outside helpAs parents, we want to help our family as best we can. When it comes to a teen in crisis, it’s okay to admit that you need outside help to support you and your teen. The help that your teen will need will depend on the type of crisis that they are facing. Some of the concerns your teen could be faced with include:
- Thoughts of suicide, or attempts
- Threats of harming themselves or others
- Acting aggressive or hurting others
Helping a teen in crisisThe most important thing to do when you are faced with a teen in crisis is to focus on their physical safety. Has your teen hurt themselves or threatened to harm themselves? Have they taken over the counter, prescription, or illicit drugs? Do not hesitate to call for paramedics or law enforcement backup to help you. When your teen is in crisis, the priority for anyone involved will be to get them to safety and stabilize them. If it feels like an emergency, most psychiatric hospitals will be able to provide an emergency assessment at any hour of the day. If one is not near you, then any emergency department of a hospital can help you and your teen if their immediate health and well-being are at risk. Once you are confident that your teen is safe, the following steps will depend mainly on the type of crisis you face.
Mental health concernsIf your teen has been struggling with his mental health, there are several ways for you to get him the help he needs.
- Individual counseling
- Group sessions with other teens in crisis
- Family counseling
- Medications to address the mental wellness of your teen