Teens are awesome.
Adolescents are in a period of intense growth and development both physically and mentally. Their self-exploration, social life, relationships, and discoveries about the world form the foundation for good health in the future. Having open communication with adults such as parents, teachers, doctors, therapists, community leaders, and others can connect adolescents with perspectives that allow them to make healthy, safe decisions. Teens need direct discussion with their doctor to express themselves fully and grow into independent adults. Common issues include:
1. Body image and weight
Weight and fitness during adolescence can have an impact on both mental health and on the risk of disordered eating or obesity in adulthood. Understanding healthy eating, setting activity goals, and taking responsibility for ones body and mind is a process that begins at this age and is well-supported by a professional who can listen and advise. One of the best things a parent can do for their teen is to connect them to an understanding, thoughtful, and informed professional and allow them to discuss these issues privately but with the guidance of a professional. You as a parent are an important part of the conversation, and you can feel confident that most adolescents will welcome you into the decision-making once they feel they are in control of the process.
2. Sexual Health
Sexual health is a broad topic that has its foundations in self-respect, ability to recognize and enforce boundaries, knowledge of one's body and self, and of health and disease. Adolescence is just the right time for the kids to understand sexual relationships as they will increasingly be exposed to it. Usually teens feel awkward discussing this with the parents or anyone they know, and a doctor can provide the support and information around safety measures or other aspects. Connection to a reliable source of information for teens to go with their questions and concerns is a critical component of preparing for a safe and fulfilling sexual experience.
3. Mental health
Mental health issues often become apparent at this age. Signs of a mood disorder in adolescents are often attributed to "being a teenager" (e.g. oversleeping, explosive behavior, apparent mood changes and sullenness, skipping school, etc). Often teens who struggle with anxiety, depression, the impact of ADHD, or other mental health issues do not get treated because their parents feel that that is normal teenage-hood, or because they appear to simply be "disobedient" or "not working hard in school." Treatment with therapy or medication can be life-changing for these young adults. Not only because it returns to them the ability to connect with those around them in these crucial years, but also because it sets them up with resources and knowledge for addressing their mental health in adulthood.