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The Role of Family in Adolescent Mental Health

impact of family on adolescent mental health, Role of Family in Adolescent Mental Health

Adolescent mental health is more at risk today than ever. Teens are more connected to the world around them, and the pressures are high. Teens who have family support and guidance are often better able to manage the ups and downs of the years to come.

As a young adult goes through their middle school and high school years, they will encounter challenges. While family members cannot shield them from disappointment, loss, or unfairness, they can provide a positive and supportive environment. The role of family in teen mental health cannot be understated.

How to Build a Supportive Environment at Home

Though parents may feel pressured to be all-knowing, with answers to every “why” and “what” questions a child asks, the reality is that a strong, supportive environment is far more important to adolescent development than a parent’s knowledge. Of course, it takes some work to build that type of environment–and to recognize that what your parents did is not necessarily what you should do as a parent. What can you do to create a positive environment that supports adolescent mental health? Focus on these areas:

Provide emotional support

All people need emotional support, especially teens. You can provide it by:

  • Showing empathy for the challenges they are experiencing
  • Actively listening to them and trying to understand their fears and concerns
  • Validating their feelings whether or not they “make sense” to you
  • Providing comfort when times are tough

These strategies do not diminish the intensity of emotional upheaval, but they do create a safe place, a healthy process for coping with stress, and a sense of resilience.

Keep the communication lines open

It is very common for families to feel like communication is their biggest obstacle. Your teen may not open up to you easily. They want to be independent from you. Even so, there are a few things you can do to support open communication:

  • Encourage only honest discussions from all parties
  • Encourage an open environment
  • Create a space where people feel like they can talk about their goals, dreams, fears, and thoughts no matter what those are 

By providing this type of foundation, you create an opportunity for your bond with your teen to develop. You create a sense of trust and support. Your teen will not be so afraid to come to you when the world starts to fall apart for them.

Provide supportive structure and boundaries

Finding clarity in this area can be tough in some situations, but it’s critical. Your home should have structure and boundaries that are fully understood. Some ways to do that include:

  • Seeing up rules for the family and expectations for every member
  • Provide each person with responsibilities that contribute to the positive management of the home environment
  • Encourage self-discipline and respect for all people living in the home

Creating a positive environment like this fosters a sense of responsibility that will continue for years. It also allows people to have a place where they feel safe and secure.

Building a Positive Environment for All

To support adolescent mental health, you have to consider the whole family dynamic. People are very different and need various levels of support and guidance as a result. Consider these additional strategies:

  • Celebrate the good stuff together. Find a way to acknowledge and celebrate achievements no matter what they are. This boosts self-esteem and grows relationships.
  • Collaborate to solve problems. Come together as a family unit to solve problems meaningfully without judgment. That creates a sense of empowerment.
  • Be a positive role model. Don’t expect family members to do what you do not do. Demonstrate the coping strategies, behaviors, and positive outlook you want your children to have.

That’s a tall order that may seem to require parents to be perfect all the time. But you are not perfect, and it’s good for your teens to see that. They need to see how you handle your own emotions and how you salvage situations that have gone sour. They need to see that everyone in the family has a place to learn, grow, and get help when they need it. 

Know When to Reach Out for Help

When it comes to mental health support for adolescents in Green Bay, WI, our team at Willow Creek Behavioral Health is here to help you. You don’t have to be perfect to support your family member’s mental health needs. You can take the steps necessary to facilitate success by getting some help. Contact us at any time.

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