Adolescence is a formative time in an individual's life. Difficult emotions may arise as they manage various aspects of life, such as friendships, school, home life, and more. Incorrectly managing these emotions can lead to severe mental health issues that health professionals can help with. One in seven individuals between the ages of 10-19 are diagnosed with a mental illness; getting the right help during adolescence is extremely important for the current and future of an individual's mental health.
How to help a teen or young adult struggling with mental health issues:
- Rural Arizona has a significant shortage of mental health providers. Over 40% of Arizonans live in a mental health care professional shortage area, causing individuals facing mental health challenges to lack access to adequate help. EvolvedMD is a grant-funded project focused on expanding the mental health workforce to ensure a future filled with access to behavioral health, especially in rural areas.
- Know the warning signs. Analyzing the behavioral signs and symptoms of a child, young teen, or adolescent can help to determine the next steps in their mental health journey. The National Institute of Mental Health lists many behavioral signs associated with mental illness, including frequent tantrums, the inability to sit still, and sleeping too much or too little.
- Role of health care providers. Even if you are not in the mental health profession, clinicians can help recognize and refer their patients and constituents for care. Many clinicians now request a depression short scale which is a great start. Awareness of other signs outside of depressive symptoms can deepen your ability to help those you care for. This allows you to refer the patient or constituent accurately to a mental health professional.
- Educate yourself about mental illness. Educating yourself about mental health and illness is crucial to helping others who may need help managing their own. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing offers free Mental Health First Aid courses that teach participants about mental health and substance abuse issues.
- Talk about mental health. Openly discussing mental health with an individual experiencing symptoms is critical to help them. Talking openly and honestly about depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health issues and illnesses reduces the stigma and silence around these issues, letting the individual know that it is encouraged to talk about mental health issues.