ASK THE EXPERT
I’M WORRIED ABOUT MY TEENAGER’S MENTAL HEALTH
QMY 15-year-old daughter used to be very happy and efficient, but lately she seems like a typical moody teenager and can’t seem to focus or get enthusiastic about anything. What can I do?
ASUE ROGERS, a mental health and emotional wellbeing expert at Action for Children, leads the Blues Programme, the first Uk-wide early help scheme for 15 to 18-year-olds in secondary schools. The scheme is part of the charity’s Build Sound Minds campaign, which encourages positive conversation and good mental health.
Sue, right, says: “Make time to talk and listen. Teenagers don’t always want to talk, and it’s important to respect her space. If she’s anxious, let her know you’re there if she needs you.
“Try to get into the habit of having chats about how things are going in general. The more you talk and listen, the sooner your daughter will know she can come to you with problems.
“Get her to spot negative thoughts. If she’s struggling with low self-esteem, see if she’s happy to tell you how things are going in her life. You may have noticed her saying negative things about herself. Ask why she feels that way. Explain that thoughts may not always affect reality, but can affect our behaviour. Encourage her to start noticing negative thinking patterns and question them.
“Help reduce stress. Encourage her to set realistic goals and expectations, and to see uncertainty as part of life, rather than something to worry about.
“Notice what activities she finds relaxing, and use these to wind down. Ask her to remember to value herself also.
“If your daughter’s feeling lonely, remind her it’s a feeling, related to number of friends or time spent socialising.
“Celebrate her achievements, too. Help her learn to take on responsibilities and face fears.
“You can also suggest she takes a note of how social media usage affects her mood. Could she focus on sites that make her feel positive about herself?”
Make time to talk with your teen