Getting Help for Struggling Teens

Photo courtesy of Turning Point Center for Youth and Family Development

Annie Lindgren | Turning Point Center for Youth and Family Development

 

Teens struggle for a variety of reasons. It can be due to trauma, loss, falling into the wrong crowd, mental or physical health issues, unexpected life changes, struggles with identity, bullying at school, or other causes. Some teens are simply bored and need more activities or structure in their lives. For those struggling, here are some ideas for help.

Therapy is a great place to start. Individual, family, or group therapy can address a variety of things. Youth can learn new coping skills, have someone to talk with about what’s going on in their lives, and learn better ways of communicating their needs in Individual Therapy. Family therapy helps work out the struggles in relationships and sets goals for rules, parenting, and incentives. Groups can allow teens to learn new coping skills alongside peers struggling with similar things. Other services, or modes of therapy, are available depending on the youth’s needs.

Some teens benefit from medications to help get them through a tough stretch of mental health struggles. There are medications available to treat many mental health disorders and medications for short-term or longer-term use. Medication should be used in conjunction with other interventions, as there are often other things going on impacting the feelings they are experiencing. However, some genetic disorders affecting mental health may require medication to fill a need the body cannot meet.

Teens struggling with more severe issues may need a higher level of intervention. Suicide attempts or serious self-harm behaviors may require short-term hospitalization to stabilize the youth. Suicidal youth can be assessed at local hospitals or through 911. These interventions should be coupled with outpatient services when they are ready to discharge.

Substance abuse can be a serious issue for teens, especially if they have not received education on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. An ounce of prevention can go a long way towards preventing a lifetime of struggle. An excellent resource for educating teens and learning more about drugs is https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/prevention. If you suspect your youth is using street drugs, it would be a good idea to keep Narcan on hand. Fentanyl, a common ingredient in street drugs, can cause lethal overdoses. Narcan comes in a nasal spray that is safe and easy to use, and it saves lives by reversing the effects of opioids. People who abuse drugs like opioids or methamphetamines often need medical intervention to stop using. There are detox places that can help. In addition, outpatient services are recommended as there are often underlying issues leading to substance abuse.

When finding a therapist or service provider for your youth, share with the provider what your youth’s needs are and decide on a program that specializes in those needs. For example, if your youth would benefit from groups and therapy, it would be good to find a program that offers both. In addition, share any preferences your child may have regarding the therapist’s age, gender, or approach to help find a good fit the first time. If your child is over the age of 14, they have to consent to treatment and give permission to share information with you. Encourage your adolescent to accept help and respect their privacy wishes as they work on themselves in a therapeutic environment.

Turning Point Center for Youth and Family Development offers various services to adolescents. Visit their website at turningpnt.org to find out more, or call today at 970-221-0999.

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