Adolescents in Crisis

Adolescence is a time when emotional and mental health issues tend to emerge. They often result from traumas like natural disasters, racial injustice, international strife and gun violence.

In some cases, the problem can be exacerbated by poor communication and coping skills within family members. This can lead to family breakdowns and further mental health crises.

1. Suicide

Suicide rates among youth are rising. It’s important for parents and teachers to watch out for warning signs that a teen may be at risk, such as talking about wanting to die or looking up ways to kill themselves online, increasing alcohol or drug use or acting recklessly, changing sleeping habits or becoming more socially isolated.

Conflicts with friends or family members can increase suicide risk. In addition, young people with a history of poor or inappropriate coping skills are at increased risk for suicide.

There are certain groups that have higher-than-average suicide rates, such as people in rural areas and those who work in some occupations or industries. People who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are also at greater risk for suicide.

2. Abuse

Abuse can come in many forms. It can be physical, sexual or emotional. It can be committed by anyone, including family members, friends, teachers, coaches, doctors and religious leaders. Abuse can also occur online.

Youth are at higher risk for developing mental health issues than adults. Sometimes these problems can lead to substance abuse. They are especially common among youth involved with the juvenile justice system, where co-occurring disorders may be as high as 70% of entrants.

In some cases, a youth’s mental health crisis can become so severe that it requires emergency department services. This is particularly true in areas with limited access to community-based treatment resources. This often results in the need for children to be placed temporarily in care. This can create a lot of stress for the entire family.

3. Mental Health Issues

The pandemic has brought increased stress and anxiety that can make mental health issues worse for youths. Those with a history of depression or other disorders are at increased risk, and the feelings of hopelessness can lead to thoughts about suicide.

It takes time for young people to develop and seek treatment for a mental health issue, which is why it’s important to find a therapist they trust. A therapist can help to teach a young person skills to manage their symptoms and prevent them from getting worse.

Schools are in a unique position to address the youth mental health crisis, and they should take advantage of their expertise to provide students with access to mental health care. This will help to improve their lives and decrease the likelihood that they will end up in the justice system.

4. Drugs

Many teenagers who have trouble with drugs are also struggling at school. They might be skipping classes, getting worse grades or failing to turn in assignments. They may even be stealing money to pay for their drug use.

Addiction can be caused by mental health disorders or other factors like family problems or a lack of peer connection. But a major problem now is the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl. It’s being mixed with counterfeit prescription pills and has become a leading cause of overdoses.

Illegal substances that teens commonly take include tobacco and alcohol, inhalants, marijuana, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and other hallucinogens, heroin and methamphetamine. These can lead to a range of problems from mental and physical health issues, including accidental injury, school dropout, job loss and legal troubles. They can also put them at risk of contracting infectious diseases from unsafe sex or sharing needles.

5. Family Issues

Many families experience ups and downs throughout childhood and adolescence. However, family problems can reach crisis levels when they interfere with the ability to cope or lead to a breakdown in family dynamics. Family members may blame each other, argue or stop communicating altogether. They may also show chronic difficulty meeting basic family responsibilities such as providing food, shelter or protection.

Family therapy is an excellent way to help a family understand each other better, prioritize communication, manage expectations and address individual issues that are contributing to the crisis. It can also provide the family with individualized resources and appointment schedules for outpatient treatment. This will set them up for long-term success after they leave a crisis facility.