Help for Struggling Teens

My teen is having mental health/ behavioral problems… what do I do, I need help?

Teens struggle for a variety of reasons. It can be due to trauma, loss, falling into the wrong crowd, mental or physical health issues, unexpected life changes, struggles with identity, bullying at school, or other causes.

Therapy

Therapy is a great place to start. Individual, family, or group therapy can address a variety of things. Youth can learn new coping skills, have someone to talk with about what’s going on in their lives, and learn better ways of communicating their needs in Individual Therapy. Family therapy helps work out the struggles in relationships and sets goals for rules, parenting, and incentives. Groups can allow teens to learn new coping skills alongside peers struggling with similar things. Other services, or modes of therapy, are available depending on the youth’s needs.

Medications

Some teens benefit from medications to help get them through a tough stretch of mental health struggles. There are medications available to treat many mental health disorders and medications for short-term or longer-term use. Medication should be used in conjunction with other interventions, as there are often other things going on impacting the feelings they are experiencing. However, some genetic disorders affecting mental health may require medication to fill a need the body cannot meet.

Higher Levels of Intervention

Teens struggling with more severe issues may need a higher level of intervention. Suicide attempts or serious self-harm behaviors may require short-term hospitalization to stabilize the youth. Suicidal youth can be assessed at local hospitals or through 911. These interventions should be coupled with outpatient services when they are ready to discharge.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can be a serious issue for teens, especially if they have not received education on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. An ounce of prevention can go a long way towards preventing a lifetime of struggle. An excellent resource for educating teens and learning more about drugs is https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/prevention. If you suspect your youth is using street drugs, it would be a good idea to keep Narcan on hand. Fentanyl, a common ingredient in street drugs, can cause lethal overdoses. Narcan comes in a nasal spray that is safe and easy to use, and it saves lives by reversing the effects of opioids. People who abuse drugs like opioids or methamphetamines often need medical intervention to stop using. There are detox places that can help. In addition, outpatient services are recommended as there are often underlying issues leading to substance abuse.

What to Look For in a Provider

When finding a therapist or service provider for your youth, share with the provider what your youth’s needs are and decide on a program that specializes in those needs. For example, if your youth would benefit from groups and therapy, it would be good to find a program that offers both. In addition, share any preferences your child may have regarding the therapist’s age, gender, or approach to help find a good fit the first time. If your child is over the age of 14, they have to consent to treatment and give permission to share information with you. Encourage your adolescent to accept help and respect their privacy wishes as they work on themselves in a therapeutic environment.

Check with your insurance provider to learn who takes your insurance and the coverage cost for therapy. Two great places to search for services covered by your insurance are psychologytoday.com or https://www.healthdistrict.org/cayac.

Helpful Resources:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA): https://www.samhsa.gov/

Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Connections (CAYAC): https://www.healthdistrict.org/cayac

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County: https://allianceforsuicideprevention.org/

Turning Point offers outpatient services that can help. We have Individual and Family therapy, Behavior Coaching, Substance Abuse treatment, Adolescent Residential inpatient treatment, and programming to provide education about marijuana.  Find out more about our services or contact us to make a referral. You can also email questions to referrals@turningpnt.org or call 970-221-0999 during business hours.

struggling teen needs help from Turning Point