Once a taboo topic, mental health has been brought out of the shadows by teens who are heroically breaking down barriers with their honesty.
“Teens are more open to sharing their struggle,” said Jamie Ryder, PhD, CHI Health Clinic psychologist. “We’re doing a better job at recognizing that teens need help with their mental health and not putting as much of a stigma around it.” Mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and disruptive mood dysregulation are what she sees most in her practice.
With 14 years of experience, Dr. Ryder’s passion is working with teens, running a group that focuses on helping them learn to manage and regulate extreme emotions. “(Some of these teens have) an overreaction to and may be irritable and on edge,” Dr. Ryder said.
With Generation Z at the center of a society fueled by social media, today’s teens are enthralled in a digital culture that psychologists believe is causing their mental state to suffer. Dr. Ryder often works with adolescents who have difficulty with social skills and the ability to form meaningful relationships without using a phone or computer.
“(Social media) needs to be closely monitored by parents and not letting that become your child’s whole life,” she said. While they are common factors, Instagram and Snapchat aren’t the only things contributing to your teen’s state of mind.
“Everybody’s story is different,” Dr. Ryder said. “Some of it is genetics, biological. A lot of teens that I see have had some type of trauma in their life.” Parents play a vital role in their child’s mental health. Recognizing the warning signs is key, but fostering an open and honest relationship is equally important.
“I think you should be having conversations with your child before you even notice things,” Dr. Ryder said. “You should have an open and honest dialogue before you see signs. If things are going on, they should already feel comfortable with being able to come to you and share those things.”
Mental Health: Signs of Struggle