Mental health challenges can affect anyone at any stage of life—from adolescence through adulthood. If left untreated, mental illnesses can dramatically impact the way adolescents learn, behave, or handle their emotions, causing psychological distress that makes it difficult to function in daily life. Some of the most common mental disorders diagnosed in adolescents include ADHD, anxiety, mood disorders, and behavior disorders, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Fortunately, many mental health conditions are highly treatable, and early intervention can help adolescents learn valuable coping strategies that extend into adulthood. Here are some of the best treatment options for mental illnesses in teenagers.
1. Residential Treatment
Adolescence is an especially vulnerable time for young people, and the formation of identity begins as adolescents bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. Especially for those with mental health concerns, negative feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs can feel overwhelming. Over time, difficulties in family communication and functioning can make adolescents feel hopeless and unsure of where to turn.
Residential treatment programs provide proven, evidence-based treatment to help adolescents address their mental health issues in a safe space. Teen residential therapy can help teenagers learn better communication skills, learn helpful ways to cope with their mental health problems and start feeling better. Your teen’s treatment plan may involve a combination of family therapy, group therapy, and individual therapy.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), one of the most effective types of psychotherapy for both adolescents and adults, is a key component of any successful treatment plan.
CBT helps teenagers focus on changing behaviors that are related to the mental health symptoms that they’re experiencing, making it a powerful tool in mental health treatment. CBT is an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions, including personality disorders, ADHD, substance use disorders, PTSD, and more.
Above all else, psychotherapy provides a supportive environment for teenagers to talk about their negative thoughts, behavior issues, and mental health issues with an experienced mental health professional. Depending on your teenager’s specific needs, their therapist may recommend incorporating positive activities into their daily life and restructuring negative thought patterns using evidence-backed CBT techniques. Some teenagers may also benefit from a combination of CBT and medication management.
Most mental health professionals are trained in CBT, but it’s important to take the time to find the right therapist for your teenager. To start your search, search for “cognitive behavioral therapy near me” or ask your child’s clinician for referrals.
3. Support Groups
If your teenager is struggling to open up, support groups can provide a valuable resource. Support groups provide a safe, supportive environment for young adults to meet people who are experiencing similar mental health concerns—whether that’s low self-esteem, social anxiety, or PTSD. During support group sessions, young adults can discuss different approaches and coping skills used to cope, as well as common emotional issues, mental health symptoms, and more.
Although support groups are typically moderated by a professional counselor or clinical social worker, they are not a substitute for professional mental health care or therapy. However, like group therapy, support groups offer unique opportunities for teenagers to strengthen their communication skills and build a social support network. Support groups can be especially helpful for teenagers with PTSD, OCD, anxiety disorders, and addiction issues.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers various support group resources for young adults with mental health issues and their family members, such as the NAMI Family Support Group and NAMI Connection.
Whether your teenager is experiencing social anxiety or emotional dysregulation, early intervention is key. Therapy can dramatically improve your child’s quality of life by helping them overcome negative thinking, form healthy relationships, and realize that they’re not alone.