The mental health of our children and teens has been getting a lot of screen time in the past few months. The alarming suicide rates are increasing weekly. Schools can’t stop bullying or don’t know how to approach the epidemic.
At school one of the first things our children are taught is that if someone hits you, calls you names, picks on you in any way, you can not retaliate because if you do, you will be punished as well!
And they wonder why bullies run rampant!
When my son was in prep he attended a school where his aunt worked. She told me she had seen him hitting a child with his hat when she was on yard duty. She turned and walked the other way as she didn’t want to tell him off because the boy was a known bully! (My son had already mentioned it to me, he was protecting his friend!)
Fast forward to high school and every other day there is something on social media or in the news about bullying and suicide.
When we were at school, the home was a safe place where no one could get to you. Now our children have internet, phones, iPads, iPods… Our children are no longer safe from the bullies in their own bedrooms!
A number of schools now have counsellors but they still don’t seem to be making an impact on the problems our children face on a daily basis.
Every time I hear about another child taking their own life or trying to, I am so glad my three are now home with me. (Mr 16 began homeschooling two weeks ago).
The education system is broken – not just here but in many countries around the world.
It is so important that not only you recognize the signs of depression, anxiety and a plethora of other mental health conditions facing our children, but that they are made aware of them too.
9 Signs Something Could Be Wrong…
1. Always Tired
Yes, teens sleep a lot – after all, they are growing. But there is the ‘normal’ sleep til noon teenager and then there is the always tired, moping around, listless one.
2. Everything Annoys Them
Again, yes they are teens, but when even the smallest things set them off into a massive overreaction, something is wrong.
3. Loss of Appetite
Teens are supposed to be hungry. Having no appetite or interest in food is definitely a sign something is going on.
4. Social Isolation
If your teen would rather stay home than go out with their friends, isn’t interested in catching up with anyone, just wants to hibernate – dig a little deeper and start a conversation.
5. No Interest in Anything
If your teen has stopped participating in things they used to enjoy, depression could be the culprit.
6. Forgetfulness/Trouble Concentrating
We all forget things now and then, but if your teen is forgetting to do simple things and is having trouble concentrating, a chat and maybe a trip to the doctor is in order.
7. Mentally Beating Themselves Up
Thinking they’re worthless, stupid, dumb, and using other negative words to describe themselves is a warning sign
They may not admit it or show it, but when your teen stops expressing themselves, stops having an interest in things around them, this could be how they’re feeling.
9. Thinking About Dying
Unfortunately, most teens aren’t that great at expressing themselves and they often keep their feelings and emotions to themselves, but if they are suddenly talking about death and dying, drawing pictures depicting death and/or accidents, watching realistic images of death, you need to take action.
What Can You Do?
We need to teach all our children that feelings and emotions are not something to be ashamed of – we shouldn’t hide them.
You, as their parent, are your child/rens safe place. They should be able to come to you and tell you about their day (good and bad) and how they are feeling.
We all need to slow down, take time at the end of each day to talk to each other and find out how our day has been.
If one of us is struggling, we need to all be there to help.
And always remember, if you are not satisfied with a doctor’s opinion – get another one. If you have to, keep going until you are confident your concerns are being heard.
I wish you well on your journey.
Below are some resources to help you and your family survive the mental health minefield.
Please Note: This article is for general information only. If you are concerned about your child/teen/partner or yourself, please seek medical advice immediately.
Author: Lara Galea
Lara is a freelance writer, blogger, photographer and homeschooler. When not helping others with their journey, she is either reading, binge-watching Netflix or creating havoc in the kitchen.