Addressing Teen Mental Health Challenges
A Mental Health Toolkit for Parents and Guardians of Teens
The Department of Public Health recognizes that parenting has its share of challenges, and we are so glad that you found your way to this information. You may be a parent, grandparent, foster parent, neighbor, or mentor. No matter your title, you are an important role model in your teen’s life, and supporting their mental health is vital to their wellbeing. We are pleased to share information and resources with you that support your teen as they learn, grow, and overcome challenges.
If you are a parent or guardian accessing this toolkit because your teen is currently, or close to, experiencing a crisis involving physical or verbal outbursts, or even thoughts of hurting themselves, please skip to the section titled What to Do in a Crisis.
Talking about mental health with your teen can be difficult but it can also go a long way toward helping them navigate depression, stress, and anxiety. Signs of many mental health conditions are often first observed during the teenage years; 50% of mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% present by age 241. The resources and approaches found throughout this toolkit serve as a guide to helping your teen recognize and manage their emotions so that they may better respond and adapt to challenges into early adulthood and beyond. Effective and timely support can help teens stay in school, make safe choices, and stay on track to achieve their life goals. As a parent or other safe adult in a teenager’s life, your proactive and supportive presence will help your teen achieve optimal mental health and wellbeing as they move through life.
As you review this toolkit, please remember that your teen is thankful that you are here with their wellbeing, safety, and happiness in mind. Please know that you are not alone if you are feeling frustrated or uncertain if your teen is experiencing mental health challenges. Your support is incredibly meaningful and helpful to your teen, even if it is difficult for them to show it.
The second half of this mental health toolkit focuses on mental health maintenance. You will learn about the factors that impact mental health and wellbeing, be guided through happiness exercises, and learn to distinguish between typical and atypical behavior changes during adolescence.
Throughout this toolkit you will be able to create your own list of mental health resources from reliable local, state, and national organizations.
Reasons for migration are varied and include moving away from persecution, human right abuses, disasters, war, reuniting with family, and seeking new opportunities. During the relocating process, you and your family may have experienced trauma, fear, and anxiety. Language and immigration status add additional barriers that can make finding mental health services in the U.S. difficult. However, there are services available in Los Angeles County that provide health care to everyone regardless of immigration status. Los Angeles County Department of Health Services has a list of specialized services for immigrant populations at Immigrant Services website and 211LA is another helpful tool for Immigration Resources (211LA). El Centro De Amistad offers free mental health support to uninsured or undocumented individuals between the ages of 0 and 64.
If you are parenting children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) we know that your family may require specialized support when it comes to mental health. In Los Angeles County, you are eligible for Regional Center services. The Regional Centers work with the California Department of Developmental Services to coordinate or provide community support, resources, and access to services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. There are 7 Regional Centers in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health provides more information on their Regional Centers webpage.
Mental health challenges experienced by children reaching adolescence are not new5. In fact, CDC reported that one in six students experienced behavioral or emotional symptoms and impairments that were diagnosable as a childhood mental disorder in a March 2023 study6. Common mental health disorders in adolescents ages 13-18 include anxiety disorders (32%), depression (13%), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (9%), and eating disorders (3%)7. It is not uncommon for conditions to occur together, in fact CDC reports that for teens reporting anxiety, more than 1 in 3 also had depression8.
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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.