How Parents Can Support Their Kids’ Mental Health

Being a parent is scary, especially being a parent of a teen girl right now. 

Recently the CDC came out with the results of a ten-year-long study (2011-2021) called the Youth Risk Behavior Study. The statistics were, to put it mildly, discouraging. For instance:

-3 in 5 girls reported feeling persistently sad and hopeless.

-More than 1 in 4 girls reported seriously considering suicide.

-Substance abuse rates were higher among girls than boys. 

-Girls were more likely to experience sexual violence than boys.

-Girls were more likely to miss school because of safety concerns (either at school or on the way to/from school).

-20% of girls reported being electronically bullied.

-17% of girls reported being bullied at school.

 

So what can we do as parents to help our daughters deal with the immense pressure they feel right now? 

The good news is that parents can actually make a big difference. The study also showed that teens who reported higher levels of parental monitoring (an adult at their home knows where they are and who they’re with most of the time) also reported lower levels of substance abuse and other self-harming or risky behaviors. 

 

 

What else can parents do to help? Try these action steps:

1. Openly discuss emotions at home (yours and theirs) and model ways to deal with those emotions- how to calm down when you’re upset, how to cheer yourself up when you’re sad, etc.

2. Start having short, frequent “check in” conversations in low-stress situations.

3. Be patient- it may take a while to build trust.

4. Listen more than you talk.

5. Bring up examples of people they admire who have dealt with or addressed mental health issues- like Simone Biles.

BONUS- Do a shared activity that encourages discussion about emotions or peer pressure. 

 

The more involved you are in your kids’ lives and the more you show willingness to listen and support them, the better off they will be! Do you have any other tips to share? Drop them in the comments!

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Emily Stanley

Emily is the founder and Executive Director of GEMS (Gaining Emotional Mastery Skills). She is a former teacher and a certified girls' empowerment coach.

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