Thanks to the amazing resource at the Raising Children Network

What is pre-teen and teenage mental health?

Mental health is a way of describing social and emotional wellbeing.

Your child needs good mental health to develop in a healthy way, build strong relationships, adapt to change and deal with life’s challenges.

Pre-teens and teenagers who have good mental health often:

  • feel happier and more positive about themselves and enjoy life
  • bounce back from upsets and disappointments
  • have healthier relationships with family and friends
  • do physical activity and eat a healthy diet
  • get involved in activities
  • have a sense of achievement
  • can relax and get a good night’s sleep
  • feel like they belong to their communities.

Adolescence can be a risky period for mental health problems because teenagers are going through many changes and challenges in a short period of time. This all happens while  teenage brains are still maturing.

Promoting good teenage mental health

Your love and support and  a strong relationship with you can have a direct and positive influence on your child’s mental health. It can even reduce the chances of your child experiencing mental health problems.

Here are some ideas to promote your child’s mental health and wellbeing:

  • Show love, affection and care for your child.
  • Show that you’re interested in what’s happening in your child’s life. Praise your child’s efforts as well as their good points and achievements. Value your child’s ideas and opinions.
  • Enjoy  spending time together one on one with your child, and also as a family.
  • Encourage your child to talk about feelings with you. It’s important for your child to feel they don’t have to go through things on their own and that you can work together to  find solutions to problems.
  • Deal with problems as they arise, rather than letting them build up.
  • Talk to trusted family members, friends, other parents or teachers if you have any concerns. If you feel you need more help, speak to your GP or another health professional.

Physical health is a big part of mental health. To help your child stay emotionally and physically healthy, encourage your child to do the following:

  • Keep active. Physical fitness will help your child stay healthy, have more energy, feel confident, manage stress and sleep well.
  • Develop and maintain  healthy eating habits.
  • Get enough regular  sleep. Quality sleep will help your child to manage a busy life, stress and responsibilities.
  • Avoid  alcohol and other drugs.

Alcohol and other drugs are a major risk factor for teenage mental health problems. You should encourage your child to avoid drugs, and don’t give your child opportunities to drink alcohol until they’re 18 years old. If you know your child is using alcohol or other drugs and you’re worried, talk with your child. Also consider speaking to a health professional or counsellor.

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