Puberty is a time of physical, emotional, and cognitive change. It’s when young people begin to leave the world of childhood and get their first glimpse of adulthood. However, growing up comes with its own challenges, like learning how to engage with peers and make responsible choices. Adding puberty into the mix can make teens especially vulnerable to exacerbated mental health issues. Therefore, it is important to understand the changing feelings and thoughts of your child and how to help them cope with this challenging stage.
If you are a parent, a teacher or a youth mentor, here’s what you should know about teenage mental health during puberty.
Puberty and Teenage Mental Health
The Challenges of Puberty
During puberty, teens often struggle with poor body image, peer pressure, intense feelings, body changes, and their newfound sexuality. This is also a time when kids begin making their own choices and seeking independence from their parents. As a result, increased conflicts with family members can also occur. These experiences are normal, but they can cause new challenges that affect a teenager’s mental health.
Unfortunately, early puberty also comes with more risks; many young people who experience early puberty are at risk for heightened mental health issues. This can include increased anxiety, depression, ADHD, eating disorders and self-harming behavior. It’s extremely important to check in with your child frequently and encourage open conversations about teenage mental health.
Signs that a Teen’s Struggles Go Beyond Puberty
As a parent, you probably know what to expect from puberty since you’ve experienced it yourself. You recognize that when your child reaches puberty age, they are going to experience new challenges. With that being said, not every behavior can be dismissed as a symptom of puberty. It is possible that your child needs professional help if they are struggling or their problems are severe.
- Sudden changes in behavior or emotional states; becoming extremely aggressive or detached
- A severe change in eating habits (extreme weight loss or gain, vomiting after meals that indicates a potential eating disorder)
- Any signs of self-harm, including cuts, scratches or burn marks on body
- A loss of energy, having no interest in friendships, family, schoolwork and other activities
- Attendance problems at school
- Risk-taking behaviors such as alcohol/drug use, violent outbursts, lying frequently or bullying others
What You Can Do
If you’re a parent, a guardian or a youth mentor, you may want to know what you can do to support a young person during puberty. One of the best things you can do is encourage open communication and let the young person in your life know that you’re there for them. Having a support system or even one supportive person who they can talk to and share their struggles with is essential. However, if you notice a teenager’s mental health decline over time, you can seek help for them by recommending professional care. Trust your instincts and, most importantly, speak with your child or mentee regularly as they move from childhood to young adulthood.
Partner with Lead4Life, Inc. Today to Learn More
Visit our website for more information about teenage mental health, or contact us at 240-499-8949. At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources like mental health tips so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills.