Is Your Teen at Risk?

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BACK-TO-SCHOOL TIME CAN TRIGGER MENTAL ILLNESS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Millions of teenagers across the country struggle with depression, anxiety and other behavioral health issues. In fact, a staggering 20 percent of 13 to 17-year-olds live with a mental health condition, and 50 percent of all lifetime mental illness cases begin by age 14.

For parents and guardians, it can be the most heart-wrenching and confusing time they face with their child. Mental illness causes range from bullying to peer pressure, substance abuse, chemical imbalances or family problems. No matter the situation, back-to-school time increases many of these risk factors.
Learn About Our Adolescent Program
 

Identify Stress and Develop Coping Mechanisms

Stressors are prevalent throughout teens’ lives. Working to identify, address and manage them early is crucial. Solutions may be as simple as improving time management, creating routines or taking downtime. Depending on the situation, more intensive steps, like seeing a counselor or taking medication, are required.

Helping teenagers find healthy coping mechanisms for managing anxiety and stress empowers them with the life skills that can prevent them from seeking out riskier coping mechanisms — including self- medicating with alcohol or drugs.

Spot Substance Abuse Red Flags

Even in the best of situations, there are teens who turn to drugs and alcohol. Parents and guardians need to be vigilant and aware of possible indicators, which can include some of the following and more:

    • Changes in friend/family relationships
    • Extreme mood shifts
    • Increased usage of over-the-counter eye or nasal drops
    • Secretive or erratic behavior
    • Track marks on arms and legs
    • Burns or soot on fingers and lips
    • Runny nose or frequent nosebleeds
    • Mouth or cold sores
    • Dramatic weight loss or gain
    • Loss of interest in activities and/or school

Whether addiction is involved or a teen is “just experimenting,” the conversations and action steps following parent and guardians’ initial suspicions are crucial. First, have a conversation with each other and then with the teenager. When the latter happens, go in with a clear plan. Always be honest, have evidence, expect anger, provide clear rules and consequences, and follow-through with them.

Addiction will require more extreme action. Involve a specialist and get adolescents in crisis the treatment they need for their best chance at recovery.

How to Get Help

At SUN Behavioral, we’re able to help with mental illness and substance abuse disorders through our Adolescent Program, which has two path options:

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is for adolescent patients transitioning from inpatient care or who need urgent treatment in a time of crisis to prevent a hospital visit.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is designed for teens who may be transitioning from inpatient care or need more intensive treatment than traditional outpatient programs can offer.

Our program is designed for young people who need treatment for mental, emotional or addiction problems. It’s led by SUN’s team of experts who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Together, we partner with teens and their families to help them map a journey to improved health and happiness.
Learn About Our Adolescent Program