Investing in the Right Teen Treatment Plan - When to Seek Professional Help

Today, more than 20% of teenagers live with a mental health disorder. Stress from work, school and social situations often adversely affects family life and wellbeing. We live in a society where mental health issues in teens are more prominent than ever. Troubled youth are struggling to deal with the burdens of becoming an adult as both their bodies and social circles change. Our children are under an incredible amount of pressure to become successful, productive members of society. This pressure weighs on young minds trying to navigate and understand life’s complexities and nuances. This leaves may parents frightened, wondering what to do. It can be tough deciding on the best options for teen treatment. For moderate symptoms, outpatient programs can be very successful. In severe cases, a specialized residential teen treatment center will be the most effective choice. These facilities are good options in cases where local pressures and stress may inhibit the treatment received in a local outpatient program.

The Weight of the World: The Stress of the Modern Teenager

Teenagers are particularly prone to mental health conditions. Our bodies have evolved to naturally try to avoid situations that could be harmful to our well-being. Naturally, we have an instinct to find a safe state of being in which our bodies are neither actively being harmed nor are at risk of being harmed. Whenever our desired state of biological equilibrium is threatened, our body encourages us to “get away from this!” In the early days of human history, it was our ability to feel stress that saved us from countless confrontations with death and other dangers. Ironically and tragically— it seems that stress can evolve into conditions that have become an active source of harm for both teens and their families.

Stress’ Surprising Role in Mental Health

Healthy levels of stress can be motivating. Feeling stressed about school can be a biological motivator to get better grades. Stress from our interactions with others can motivate us to find socially acceptable solutions and behaviors. But when burdened with excess stress or anxiety, teens can feel alienated from a reasonably achievable solution. In severe cases, these biological chemical releases can begin to deteriorate our bodies both inside and out. When teens experience prolonged discomfort their immune system and mental health begins to deteriorate. Stress can be a seemingly crushing burden to carry, and it seems that almost every adult can remember one time or another when they themselves were teenagers desperately searching for answers.

Is there a way out? Is there a way to relieve this unbearable burden from the fragile shoulders of those who are no longer children but are not yet adults?

Unfortunately, there is no “magic” button nor pill. The best course of action is to develop a plan. Fortunately, there are many steps we can take to help teenagers overcome these burdens and regain a positive outlook on life.

One of the reasons that adolescents are particularly vulnerable to mental disorders is that they are undergoing the essential phase of their development. Teens are developing a sense of “self”. They are—naturally and justifiably—experiencing an ego-centric worldview as they develop a more refined sense of self-awareness. Whenever something in their world goes wrong, they have a natural and justifiable instinct to put the blame entirely upon themselves. This occurs even in cases where their actions were not primary cause. Furthermore, this ego-centric stage of development leads a lot of teenagers to assume the “entire world” is watching them. Teir natural need to satisfy such an inescapably large audience puts a tremendous amount of pressure upon their shoulders they feel could never possibly be satisfied.

Advantages of Residential Treatment Centers

To escape this hellish domain of the ego-centric self, it is important for us to educate our teenagers and help them learn to live beyond their condition. Residential treatment centers are very good at establishing effective coping mechanisms that teens can use daily for instant relief. These programs create a foundation using support networks of family, friends, and medical professionals. The end goal to help teenagers realize that they are not alone, and enforcing the principle that “saving the world”— so to speak — is not something that remains entirely up to them. Experiential treatments and outlets such as music, art, writing, and others are often incorporated into the programs to alleviate symptoms and overcome trauma. Teens learn to express their innermost struggles creatively and constructively, instead of through unhealthy coping mechanisms. Furthermore, shifting their environment can remove them from local pressures and expand a child’s view of the world, promoting long term recovery and growth.

Teenagers are naturally reacting to the potential dangers of the world around them, just as human beings have been evolving to do. Managing teen mental health can often be overwhelming and frightening for parents. While there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to successfully administering treatment, residential options typically have higher success rates than outpatient programs. Look for program that provides an intimate, tailored level of care, paired with evidence based treatments and a comprehensive aftercare support program. For more information on adolescent treatment, contact your local mental health professional. 

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