The impact of COVID-19 has left many of our teenagers with a level of depression and/or anxiety that they may have not experienced before. Our current generation of teenagers already have been identified as a very anxious community of youth. Added to the normal stress of school there has been a number of isolation factors that have left our teenagers struggling in ways some of them do not understand. What is difficult is when parents recognize that there are some significant changes in their mental health that may need some help or intervention.
In a recent article on the Child Mind Institute by Rachel Ehmke there is a substantial discussion of how teenagers resist the help they need as well as some suggestions as to what to do about it. Here is a quote from the article:
It can be hard to get kids to agree to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist. In fact this is a common stumbling block for many parents of teenagers struggling with anything from anxiety to ADHD, depression, or an eating disorder. It’s not enough for you to see them suffering, or for it to be obvious to everyone around them that they’re not themselves and they need some kind of intervention. Adolescents need to want to get better, and be willing to work with someone to make that happen. For treatment to work kids need to buy into it, at least a little.
So it is important to get to the bottom of why kids are being resistant and try to change their minds. Here are some common reasons why a kid might say no to treatment:
- She doesn’t think she needs help. She might say, “This is just how I am.”
- She doesn’t think therapy or medicine would work.
- She’s already tried it and didn’t like it.
- She thinks getting help is embarrassing.
- She’s feeling defensive. Not only is this a common posture for teens, it’s also an understandable reaction from someone who is tired of repeatedly struggling or getting negative attention over something.
- She’s feeling hopeless. She can’t imagine that it’s possible for her to feel better.
I have heard several of these reasons from teenagers and a great deal of exasperation from parents who are fearful, anxious and desperate for their teenager to get the help they need. It often does not happen until they are ready which is why it is good to know what their concerns are in getting help. This is why open and honest communication with our teens is essential in these difficult moments.
This article goes on to make some helpful suggestions as to how to facilitate your teenager getting to the help they need.
We at Lakeside realize all the good progress that can happen once we engage teenagers who struggle. We recognize that parents and schools have had to be extremely persuasive or even insistent to the student in order to get them to where they can get the help they need. Once the teenager and the parents realize the progress, growth and eventual success there is usually an acknowledgement that it was all worth it! So as this article says, “Don’t give up!”