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Mental Health: Recognizing and Addressing Symptoms | By Abbey Wollschleger

As a licensed therapist, parents and guardians frequently ask me why mental health is important. Life can be tough and with the rise of social media our kids are faced with more challenges than ever before.

Today’s teens face many pressures such as school performance, family problems, peer expectations, bullying, and just dealing with what life throws at them.

All of these stressors can have a serious impact on your teen and teens aren’t always the best at articulating when they are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed. It is up to us as parents and caring adults to look for the signs and symptoms that a young person is struggling.

Some Signs and Symptoms:

  • Changes in behavior – i.e. showing up late, clumsiness, forgetfulness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Sudden loss of interest, enthusiasm, and motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Frequent illness – i.e. headaches or stomach aches

It can sometimes be hard to tell whether your teen is “just being a teenager” or if there is a more serious problem. You know your child best. Pay attention to how long the symptoms have been present, how severe they are, and how differently your teen is acting from his or her usual self. And when in doubt, ask for help! My job as a therapist is to help you sort out whether or not there is a more serious issue and work with you to come up with solutions to help your child deal with life stressors and symptoms.

Not waiting to address mental health symptoms and concerns will help your teens ability to:

  • Make good decisions
  • Develop and maintain healthy relationships
  • Better handle daily stressors and the ups and down of life
  • Discover who he or she is and reach his or her goals and full potential.

Addressing symptoms can also prevent your teen from developing a more serious mental health problem. If you believe your child might be struggling, Huckleberry House is here to help. Please contact 614-294-8097 and ask to speak to someone in our Family Support Program.

About the Author:

Abbey Wollschleger, LISW-S graduated with her Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University. She is currently the clinical supervisor of the Family Support Program and has over 8 years of experience providing therapy to underserved teens and families at Huckleberry House in Columbus, OH. Through active listening and education, she empowers clients to be more effective in their approaches to relationships, communication, life stressors, and problem-solving.

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Future Thinking: What are your Goals? | By Huck House Youth

This month, we focused on future thinking. In the Crisis Shelter, we discussed plans for the future and asked youth to answer a few questions about their futures.

1. What would you like to be doing when you turn 18?
2. What are some things you are doing to get ready for that?
3. What more can you do to get you ready for that?
4. Do you have a backup plan?

If you are a young person, what are your answers to these questions? Parents and mentors, what would you say to these people and how could you help them realize their goals?
Please share your answers and thoughts in the comment section.

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Future Thinking: Q and A with Amanda Glauer

Q&A with Amanda

About Amanda:  Amanda Glauer, Team Leader of the Transitional Living Program (TLP), has been working at the Huckleberry House for over 19 years. She has worked in every program at Huck House and was previously the Team Leader of the Crisis Program. Amanda obtained her degree in social work and loves working with the young people and their children at Huck House. In this Question and Answer with Amanda, she discusses how young people should think about their futures and what adults can do to be mentors.

Q:  Without support from parents, how can a young person stay motivated to reach his or her goals?

A:  Without support and encouragement, reaching your goals can be extremely difficult. If parents are not supportive, then other adults and peers can be a good place to turn. Surrounding yourself with people who have similar or higher goals will help keep you on track. Talk about your goals, why you are working towards them and what you are going to do to accomplish them.

Q:  Is it possible to think about your future too much? If so, how much is too much?

A:  It is a good thing to be focused on your future, but you know it is too much when it becomes more of an interference than a goal. If a young person is overwhelmed by their goals and constantly worrying about the future, it can be discouraging. Remind yourself why you have those goals and remember that everything that gets you one step closer is an accomplishment.

Q:  How much is not enough when it comes to thinking about your goals?

A:  If you don’t think about where you’re headed or why you make the decisions you make; you should really take some time to think about the future. Young people should live with intention and not simply let life happen to them.

Q:  Who should teens talk to about their futures?

A:  Anyone who is willing to discuss your future with you could provide helpful feedback and advice. However, balance is important when choosing who to talk to about your future. While having someone who provides nothing but encouragement can be beneficial, it is important to have someone who will challenge your goals too. Everyone will provide a different perspective, so listen to everyone, even your critics.

Q:  How can parents or mentors encourage teens to think about their futures?

A:  Just having a conversation with a young person about their future can be encouraging. Talk about their goals, break them down, and think through the pros and cons. Talk about the potential barriers and how to remove them. Recognize that reaching any goal takes hard work and there will be ups and downs along the way. Finally, help the young person build confidence by acknowledging every accomplishment that gets them closer to their goal.

Q:  Should you ever tell a teenager that his or her goals are unrealistic?

A:  No, it is very discouraging to hear that your goals shot down. Telling them that their goals are unrealistic is not teaching them anything. Instead, say “let’s research it.” Help them understand the steps, let them try it out, let them fail and let them succeed. You may know their goal is not very realistic but you need to let them walk through the steps and think for themselves. Up until about age 23, young people do not see people from start to finish and they seek instant gratification. You should help them learn from their mistakes and acknowledge their successes.

Learn more about brain development and decision making of adolescents in this podcast.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=141164708

Q:  How can a parent or mentor guide a teenager towards the right future for him or her?

A:  Adults can recognize when a young person is heading down the wrong path, but it is important to realize that you might not always know which path is right. As a parent, you may recognize a strength or weakness in a young person that he or she does not see. Rather than pushing someone down the path that you see fit, expose them to experiences that play to their strengths, allow them to feel success and let them think for themselves.

One thing that parents often do is use scare tactics to get a youth motivated. “If you don’t go to college, this is where you’ll end up,” this isn’t giving them something to work towards. A better way to look at it is, “if this is your goal, you should go to college.”

In conclusion, one of the most important things you can do for a young person is talk to them about their goals and break them down. Talk about the pros and cons, the successes and the failures and the steps they will need to take to reach their goals. Find ways that help them to see and feel their goals so that they don’t lose their desire or give up.

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What to Expect

Each day, the Huck House explores issues faced by youth and their families through group discussions, youth stories, artwork and more. While focusing on a different topic each month, our staff, youth and other community professionals will share their advice and experiences. We invite you to view our organization from within and contribute your own thoughts about the issues we discuss.

Monthly topics:

August- Future Thinking
September- Mental Illness and Suicide Prevention
October- Addiction
November- Adolescent Development
December- Religion and Spiritual Self
January- Reaching your Full Potential
February- Love and Unsafe Relationships
March- Healthy Lifestyles
April- Homelessness
May- Strengthening Family Relationships