Happy Parents: Happy Teens

Written By: Dr Malini Singh, Psychologist, Change for Life

One of the commonly seen problems in teenage years is the changes in mood and emotions.  As the brain is changing rapidly, teenagers can be prone to feeling low and finding their world confusing. One risk of being depressed as a teenager is that there is a risk of experiencing greater levels of depression as an adult.  An important factor that can help teens develop resilience is to model resilient behaviour from their parents.  Adolescents whose parents have depression can be more prone to depression in adulthood compared to teenagers whose parents have healthy mental health.  Growing research shows that the mental health of mothers plays an important role in how much adolescents improve when they get stressed and depressed.  Similarly, the role of fathers can be very important in understanding how depressed mood develops and how severe it can get in adolescents.

It is important to help teenagers by reducing the risk of suicide, self-harm, and poor self-esteem.  In dealing with family related links, examining parental mental health is a key factor in helping the whole family, and not just the adolescent. There are studies that show male teenagers with depressed fathers can be more prone to suicide attempts.  Signs of depression can be subtle and difficult to determine in adolescents.

If there is a history of depression in the family, helping treat the problems with mental health professional can be preventative and proactive.  Don’t just focus on a teenager and adolescent in the family, do a family mental health check.  Resilience training looks as setting goals and solving problems as a family.  Good communication is important to increase emotional awareness and happiness. Use a “family feeling thermometer,” to help family members talk about their emotions.  Use the thermometer to talk about feelings as a family unit.  Be active in improving your family resilience.  Family mental health is important to target because by the time families approach services for help, the problems have blown up into a major problem.  Get help sooner, rather than later.  So, keep track of your family’s feeling temperature and work on a family therapy model to help everyone in your family be healthier, happier, and beat the blues as a family.

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