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Keeping Your Teen Safe This Summer

Summer offers a lot of free time opportunity for teenagers, something they treasure! However, for parents there is a valid concern of how to protect their teen’s heath and wellness. Aspire Counseling Services offers some tips for parents to help them address challenges their teen may face, such as mental health problems, behavioral issues, and substance use.

Addressing mental health issues early while a child is young helps prevent serious problems as they become teenagers and young adults. Mental health issues in teenagers often co-occurs with substance use. This is typically because the teen is trying to use alcohol, drugs, or nicotine to “self-medicate” their symptoms of mental health problems. Some teens may engage in cutting, burning, or aggressive behaviors. Teens are often labeled as “moody”; however, mental health issues are identified by an on-going pattern of worrisome behavior, not an occasional bout of “moodiness.” Parents should watch for signs of mental health issues and substance use, while they encourage their teens to get adequate exercise, sufficient sleep, and proper nutrition.

Parents can help encourage their teens to live healthy, happy lives by providing emotional support and helping them to develop resilience and social skills. Parents should inspire their teen to engage in physical, mental, or social challenges that help them to overcome fear and hesitancy. Taking healthy risks provides the excitement for new experiences that teens thrive on. Teens also tend to struggle with impulsivity, so encouraging them to set goals and pursue them, rather than seeking constant instant gratification, can help them learn to check their impulsive nature. Look for opportunities to involve your teen in community activities, volunteering, or developing and mastering various skills, which can keep them not only busy but engaged socially with others, so they do not feel isolated. The more you help your teen to build confidence and social skills, the more you reduce their risk of dangerous behaviors.

Signs of Mental and Behavioral Health Issues in Your Teen

  • Sleeping problems: excessive sleeping, insomnia, difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Weight changes: weight loss, loss of appetite, weight gain, purging after eating
  • Loss of interest in previous favorite activities
  • Personality shift: excessive anger, aggressiveness
  • Dramatic decline in academic performance
  • Excessive moodiness, unexpected crying
  • Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Paranoia and excessive secrecy
  • Self-mutilation or talk of self-harm
  • Obsessive concern with body-image
  • Excessively isolating themselves
  • Abandoning friends and social groups
  • Slurred speech
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Prescription drug misuse: medication missing, OTC cough and cold medication misuse

Aspire Counseling Services is here to help parents and teens with any concerns they may have regarding mental health or behavioral health issues. If you are concerned your teen may be struggling, or they are exhibiting any of the above signs, please call Aspire. Keep your teen safe this summer, and ensure they are healthy and ready for a positive upcoming school year!

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