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What about mental health in teens?

Nanny secours blogger for Kaleido

Written by: Nanny Secours

April 25, 2024

Do you remember, dear parents, when you were teenagers? Some of you may have fond memories, others not so fond. No two people experience adolescence the same way, and that's normal. The important thing is to be sensitive to the fact that many young people, including your own kids, may be experiencing more fragile mental health. The best way to support your teenager is to equip yourself to detect the signs of mental health distress and find ways to better intervene.

What are the signs of mental health problems in teens?

It can be tricky to spot the signs that a teenager is going through a difficult time. Sometimes, parents may think that their child is fine, and that they are just living the teenage life: a period of rebellion, self-discovery and new experiences. However, this may not always be the case. A 2022 study highlighted the fact that three times as many young people in high school reported fair or poor mental health in 2022 compared with 20201.

These mental health problems can manifest themselves in the following ways:

  • The young person is more reclusive, embarrassed or anxious.
  • Without talking about it, the teenager may have certain fears that intensify, such as not having any friends, not being loved, experiencing failure, being picked on, and so on.
  • The adolescent experiences anxiety that remains context-specific (an important exam, a fight with a friend, a move, etc.).
  • Anxiety can lead to risky behaviour, such as using drugs and alcohol, panic attacks due to performance anxiety, dressing more suggestively, and hanging out with the wrong crowd.

As a parent, it's essential to remain open and non-judgmental. Show them that you're always there for them, whatever happens, and that you accept them as they are. The important thing is to consult a healthcare professional when these signs appear and you are unable to communicate with your teenager.

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What is an anxiety disorder?

An anxiety disorder is a mental disorder in which anxiety is manifested in panic attacks due to physical and/or psychological difficulties. It's the most common mental health disorder among teenagers, because it's during adolescence that children begin to experience major changes that can cause stress (questioning, finding their identity, onset of puberty, arrival at high school, new friendships, etc.).

For some teenagers, this stress can become greater and more recurrent, preventing them from functioning properly. Many may also develop an anxiety disorder due to the extreme performance anxiety they impose on themselves.

The impact of mental health problems on teens' school performance

Since young people are looking for themselves as individuals during adolescence, they are more inclined to compare themselves with others and lose their self-esteem. In particular, this can affect their academic performance. Young people are often very demanding of themselves. They are prone to put too much on their shoulders or have unrealistic goals. When the expected result is not what the teenager had hoped for, anxiety can set in.

As a parent, you can greatly help your child through positive reinforcement. Encourage them, show them that you believe in them and that their efforts are more important than the results. Explain that stress is healthy if you can control it.

You can also suggest activities and practices that help your child better manage stress (visualization, meditation, journaling, positive thinking, etc.). Don't hesitate to work together with the school's teachers and guidance counsellors so that everyone can work as a team to support your child.

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How can I support my teenager with a mental health problem?

When your teen shows symptoms of a mental health problem, it's essential that you offer them plenty of support and listen to their needs and concerns:

  • Show your child that you are there to talk about it, or simply to listen.
  • Let your child know that you'll do everything you can to help them get through this difficult time.
  • Offer to let their teachers know, talk to the school's special education staff or go to teen support groups.
  • If necessary, suggest that your child seek help from a psychologist. You yourself can consult a professional to help you through this worrying period.
  • Encourage your child to play sports and talk with friends.

You can't force your child to act, but you can do your best to encourage them, and above all, be present as much as possible.

Here are a few useful links for more information and tools:


No teenager is immune to mental health problems. At this thankless time, when young people are going through major changes, it's essential as a parent to be there for our teens, to support them in a caring way, to be alert to the signs and to intervene if necessary.


Emmanuelle Bourgault, Family Counsellor - Member of the Nanny Secours Network

Legal Notes

1. Survey on the psychological health of 12- to 25-year-olds: (French only)

2. Certain conditions and limitations apply. Promotions, benefits and other advantages of the Family Companion Service are subject to change without notice and may not be available in all regions.