Advice On Helping A Struggling Teen

When a child struggles, the entire family is affected. Parents console, encourage and model behaviors, but for some kids struggling with mental health issues, it may not be enough. Knowing when additional intervention is required can be a tough decision. In a CNN article posted yesterday, Dr. Charles Raison, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers this advice:

“If your kid is going off the rails, and that means they are acting extremely bizarrely, they are totally different than they were before, they’re not functioning, it’s an emergency,” said Raison. “And the best thing you can do is push, push, push to get your kid the best care you can find and as quickly as possible.”

Parents of children with mental disorders need to advocate with their children to take medications, get treatment when necessary, and take basic care of themselves. This can be a difficult burden with an adolescent struggling for independence and control. Dr. George DuPaul of Lehigh University had this to share with parents tormented by how hard to push while giving control and still get the adolescent the treatment they need:

He suggested saying to the teenager, “We need to do this but I’m going to give you the choice. … When we go to this professional, you can meet with this person and relay these concerns yourself or I will do it so you have a choice as to how it’s going to take place, but it does need to take place because of these concerns that I have.”

For more practical advice offered by these two physicians, read the CNN article here.