How to Support a Teen in a Mental Health Crisis
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Mental health symptoms don’t always stay at a constant level; they often fluctuate, intensifying in waves. If you have a teen with a mental health disorder, it is important to be aware of how their condition can shift over time. As your teen’s mental health changes, their needs will change as well. Understanding the best ways to support your teen during a crisis is important. In many cases, this will involve professional intervention. While professional treatment can often be beneficial, it can become necessary in times of crisis.

Not sure if your teen is nearing or currently experiencing a mental health crisis? Knowing how to recognize some of the common signs of a mental health crisis is essential. When you know how to determine whether your teen is struggling, you can get a better sense of what to do next. Common signs of an oncoming or ongoing mental health crisis include extreme mood and behavioral changes. If your generally outgoing teen has started to spend a lot of time alone in their room, for example, it could be a sign of a troubled mental state. You should also look out for other key signs such as difficulty sleeping, drastic appetite changes, and expressions of hopelessness or despair. 

Ways you can support your teen through a mental health crisis

If you think your teen is likely going through a mental health crisis, here are some ways you can help:

  • Stay calm — When your child is experiencing major turmoil, you should try to remain calm and composed. While empathy is important, heightening your own emotions can be counterproductive. Stability is key during a mental health crisis. If you appear distraught, you may have trouble projecting a sense of stability. Seeing distress in a parent or mentor can also make your teen feel guilty, as they may feel like they are the cause. By staying calm, you can provide a sense of security.
  • Offer reassurance — Let your teen know you are there for them. Using encouraging, empathetic language, reassure your teen that you will support them through this difficult time. A mental health crisis is generally a time of deep uncertainty. By offering reassurance, you can bolster your child’s confidence in you and themselves.
  • Listen without judgment — While speaking reassuring words is important, listening is paramount. Create a safe space where your teen can share their thoughts and feelings without judgment. When you respond to your teen, be sure to avoid criticisms and blunt language. Listen attentively and validate their feelings. It’s OK if you do not fully understand their experiences. The important thing is that you make an effort to empathize and listen.
  • Communicate openly — Open communication is key during a mental health crisis. Your teen should be able to openly articulate the thoughts and feelings they’re experiencing. With open communication, you can get a better understanding of what your teen is currently going through. This can be helpful as you work together to determine the next step. If your teen is experiencing thoughts of self-harm, for example, it is important for you to be aware. Understanding your teen’s symptoms can help you find a solution that meets their needs. Not sure how to get your teen to communicate openly? One of the best ways to build a rapport is to be transparent first. Show you are ready to listen to your teen express their honest thoughts and feelings. By offering reassurance and listening without judgment, you are taking great steps toward transparent communication.
  • Connect with professionals — In the case of a major mental health crisis, professional intervention is often necessary. When the time comes to seek professional support, assure your teen that it is OK to get help. Sometimes professional help is essential to ensuring their safety. Professional help can take many forms. For immediate support, reach out to a mental health helpline. For more long-term support, reaching out to therapists and other mental health treatment providers can be the best option.

Find top-notch mental health support for your teen at Lightfully Behavioral Health

Lightfully Behavioral Health can connect you with crisis support resources and offer professional mental health services. If your teen has recently experienced a mental health crisis, our compassionate experts can respond with evidence-based, data-driven treatment. We can help ensure that your teen receives the right level of care as your family navigates this time. With treatment options ranging from an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) to Residential Treatment, we have something for everyone.

Change is possible. If your teen needs mental health care following a mental health crisis, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, helping your teen find the fullest, brightest version of themselves.

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