Whether or not your teen shows any signs of stress, Dr. Strelitz said parents should check in with their kids regularly. Sit down with them and just ask them how they’re feeling, so they have a safe space to express any worries or concerns.
“With mental health, normalization is really important so that people don’t feel like they’re being singled out,” she said. “It is something that everyone is dealing with to some degree or another.”
Dr. Strelitz said there are a few signs that teens might be struggling with their mental health. If they’re becoming more easily annoyed than usual, lashing out at you, or avoiding their friends, that could be a sign of potential depression. Sleeping too much, not sleeping enough, overeating, not eating enough, and not enjoying things they usually like can also be red flags.
Dr. Strelitz also encouraged parents of teenagers to reach out to their pediatrician for advice about how to help their kids through the pandemic. Parents might also want to consider finding a therapist, so teenagers can have another adult to talk to.
“Therapists can help give kids and adults coping skills to deal with their feelings in a productive way,” she said. Your pediatrician can help you find a therapist, reach out to insurance, and find other mental health resources.
Parents also shouldn’t feel afraid to ask for help, Dr. Strelitz said. The stigma around mental health issues sometimes makes parents unwilling to get help until they’ve reached a breaking point. Even if your child is diagnosed with a mental health condition, they won’t face any negative repercussions. “What will follow the child throughout their life is not getting help and trying to deal with these problems later once there’s even more unhealthy coping mechanisms that they’ve internalized,” she said.