1. What are the most helpful things your parents have done or said for your mental health?
The best thing that my parents have done for my mental health is saying that they are proud of me and focusing on my own success. Instead of comparing me to other teens they may know, my parents are more interested in my health and whether I am making improvements compared to my past self, academically and personally.
They encourage me to break my own limits and outgrow myself to live my best life, not to compare my progress to other people's. However, they emphasize also that success should not be at the expense of my health either.
2. What are the least helpful things your parents have done or said for your mental health?
What I have not found very useful when approaching my parents with mental health concerns are their attempts to attribute specific problems such as stress, depression or loneliness to the fact that I am a teenager and that it is reasonable for the age.
I understand their intentions; my parents do not want to promote the idea that I am different in a bad way and exacerbate any problems. Nonetheless, these comments often have a more patronizing effect. Implicitly to me, it seems they are dismissing how I am feeling and saying “everybody goes through this, you just have to sort it out yourself.” I feel like instead of offering support and attempts to reconcile the issue, my concerns are overlooked when my parents react in this way.
3. Would you feel comfortable going to your parents with a mental health concern?
I usually feel quite comfortable discussing mental health issues with my parents. My relationship with my parents operates with a significant degree of trust, and I like that my parents have the wisdom and life experience to offer valuable advice for when I am stuck with a problem, for help regarding managing the stress of study or work, and for information concerning personal life.
For example, when I felt overwhelmed by the significant increase in workload when I started upper school, my mother helped me out a lot. She did this by identifying sources of stress, giving personal advice on study organization, taking me to a psychologist who helps students with this sort of dilemma and just doing small things to show she cares like making me my favourite dinner when I have had a rough day.
4. How do your parents impact your mental health?
My parents have a positive effect on my mental health. In general, I find that their presence is comforting because I always feel that if I have any concerns, I can approach my parents, and they will try their hardest to help me, regardless of the gravity of the situation.
When I am not feeling well, having them around helps me in itself. Since my parents make an effort to relate to me, my siblings and teenagers in general, I can chat with my parents about the same things I discuss with my friends, joke with them and we have similar hobbies, which is good for spending time together.
5. How can your parents promote youth mental health?
I think parents can promote teen mental health by actively setting an example. It is harder to expect teens to come out with mental health concerns if they see that adults do not reveal such worries themselves. To encourage teenagers to be healthy, parents should try to be mentally healthy as well, and if they aren't, they should seek help just as they would encourage a teen to do so. By keeping mentally fit themselves, parents can be aware of the for warning signs of problems in their children and the children of others.
What also helps is discussing mental health with teenagers and other parents. Addressing issues demonstrates concern for teen mental health and dispels any stigmas or feelings of embarrassment which prevent teens from getting the help they need.
6. Any thoughts on how parents should monitor or support their child’s social media usage?
The best way to know what a child is doing online is not necessarily to monitor their usage unbeknownst to them. Things like stalking the child's profile, restricting internet usage and rifling through their phone only promote trust issues between parents and the child because the child resents the feeling of being spied on.
I think operating on the basis that parents give their child access to technology with an understanding that their child tells them what they are doing online is best. What my parents do is ask me casually about who I am chatting with online and what I am doing. I comply and share with them because I know that if they trust me, I will be given privileges in return.
By cultivating safe and smart use of technology, parents can trust that they do not need to spy on their kids because they know that the kids can make the right decisions alone.
TeenzTalk's Blog is here to amplify youth stories and perspectives on topics including personal challenges, self-care practices, initiatives in their community, and more.