Affected by anxiety

In the last 10 to 15 years there have been more advances in mental health than ever before. What was once chalked up as normal teenage behavior is now being realized as teens suffering from various mental disorders.

An alarming survey was released last Tuesday by Children’s Mental Health Ontario and Ipsos that polled Ontarians between the ages of 18 and 34. 62 percent of responders said that they have had concerns about their anxiety levels, while 42 percent said that they’ve missed school due to anxiety.

The poll also surveyed parents of children that are 25 years and younger. An astounding 50 percent of parents said they had concerns about their child’s level of anxiety. 51 percent said that they had trouble trying to find help for their child.

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A Stigma

For some people, it’s hard to believe that a teenager would suffer from any sort of mental illness including depression or anxiety. People often say things like: What do they have to be depressed about? They’re just being a typical teen. They’re just being emotional.

There have been significant advances in mental education over the last number of years that have helped tame those stigmas attached to the disorders in teens. Many young adults are realizing that they were suffering from depression or anxiety in their teens.

Keep An Eye On Your Teen

Kim Moran, CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario told Global News parents and guardians should be in tune with their children’s moods.

“You can tell if a child is struggling as a parent and almost go with your gut. If they are missing a lot of school and they are withdrawing from their friends and family, those are really good indicators that there is something really significantly wrong,” Moran said.

Moran added there is a “crisis situation” because children with mental health issues are looking for help, with limited success.

“Sometimes there are 18-month to two-year wait lists for publicly funded mental health therapy,” she said.

“The solutions are simple. The evidence and research shows psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy administered to kids by social workers or psychologists are the things that kids need when they are struggling with a mental health issue and the solution is we need more of them.”

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Talk To Your Teen

Sometimes a teen doesn’t know that they’re suffering from anxiety, that’s why it’s important to keep the lines of communication open on the topic. They might be suffering the symptoms but not associating them with the disorder. They might think they’re weird or ill and that can cause anxiety to come on stronger if they panic.

There are three ways to start a conversation about anxiety:

  1. Let them tell you about their fears and worries
  2. Teach your child about anxiety
  3. Educate them to recognize the symptoms anxiety

By starting this conversation you can help ease their fears and teach them the signs if they ever suffer from anxiety. If they do come to you one day and tell you “I think I have anxiety,” you’ll be prepared to get them the help they need.

If you don’t know how to start a conversation – or are too nervous to do so – you can always reach out to your family doctor. They’ll be more than happy to help and educate.