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Home » Mental Health » How to Check in With Your Teen About Their Mental Health

Today, many young people are struggling with their mental health and thoughts of suicide. But parents — yes, you — can mitigate their risk.

According to The Jed Foundation (JED), a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults. While 3 out of 10 young adults experienced a mental illness in 2020 — a 42 percent increase since 2011 — over half didn’t receive care. 

Is your child struggling with anxiety and sadness? JED can help them with navigating emotional challenges like break-ups and other difficult transitions.

Signs your teenager may be struggling can include isolating from friends and family; changes in grades, sleep, or eating; and expressing feelings of hopelessness. 

But as a parent, how can you help?

“Most young people who are struggling will say that asking them how they are feeling, and then listening, is a relief,” says clinical psychologist Suzanne Button, JED’s senior clinical director of high school programming. ”It can be helpful and even preventative.”

JED’s programs reach millions of people every year, building resiliency, life skills and helping them to supports their overall well-being and thrive.

“Bring up your concern using specific, nonjudgmental language,” says Button. “Try: ’I am worried about you lately. You seem like you are not enjoying the things you used to. How are you doing?’”

Listen without reaction

Once you’ve initiated the conversation, listen without reaction so your child feels heard. Express concern, but don’t try to solve their problem. 

JED has changed, and saved, lives by equipping individuals, strengthening schools, and mobilizing communities. Learn more by clicking here.

It may require patience — and persistence.  “Teenagers are not easy to talk to,” Button says. “But don’t give up.”

Offer support

Support your child’s transition to adulthood by teaching them life skills, including cooking and laundry. This offers structure and a sense of control during uncertain times.

Trust your gut

Keep numbers to suicide helplines: Text START to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Get professional help, if needed. 

“Trust your gut,” says Button. “You know your kid; keep reaching out and keep trying.”

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