A Guide for Grandparents Whose Teenager Suffers from Mental Health Issues

Experiencing different feelings and learning to deal with them is a normal part of life. Everyone will feel sad or unhappy sometimes, and mostly those periods pass with time. When sad or negative emotions do not go away, or if a person is overwhelmed by them, this could indicate a mental health issue.

If you notice this in your teenaged grandchild, there are ways in which you can help them.

Is it ‘normal teenaged behavior’?

Try to identify whether your grandchild is displaying ‘normal’ teenage behaviors such as being intermittently grouchy or abrupt, or if they’re actually suffering from a mental health issue. The main difference might be that normal grumpy behavior comes in bouts, whereas a teenager with depression, for example, is likely to display deep sadness over time that doesn’t go away.

Another sign may be that the young person has stopped doing things they used to do, or doesn’t show any interest in anything, even activities that they previously might have done.

Let them know you’re there for them

Do not ignore symptoms or your gut feeling. Perhaps the most important thing is the let your grandchild know that you are there for them. Talk to them and tell them that you will always be available to hear about what’s going on for them. Be caring and open and non-judgmental. That way, even if they don’t want to talk immediately, they may do at a different time. If and when they do talk, try not to ask too many questions.

Also avoid offering solutions. Instead, just actively listen and offer empathy. If symptoms aren’t going away, speak to your grandchild’s parents about it and what treatment options they’ve considered. Involve your grandchild in any treatment choices. Ignite Teen Treatment could be of great help to them and be sure to show them that you support their decision to get help from such facilities.

Create social opportunities

Teenagers suffering from mental health issues sometimes try to isolate themselves and withdraw from social activities. This is often a coping mechanism, either conscious or unconscious. However, cutting themselves off from friends and family can actually worsen their symptoms. Social interactions can help, even if it feels difficult for them at first. So, try to maintain connections and communication with them. Insist on visiting them or on them walking the dog with you, for example. Arrange low-key opportunities for your grandchild to see their cousins or other friends.

Sleep, food and activity

While many grandchildren don’t live with their grandparents, there are still ways you can help in this area. When you see or speak to your grandchild, try to encourage them to eat regularly and healthily and to do regular exercise or activities. Daily exercise and a healthy diet help all people with both their physical and mental health, and if your grandchild is suffering from mental health issues, these things are even more important. Teenagers should also be getting 9-10 hours of good sleep each night.

Take care of yourself

Caring for a grandchild who is experiencing mental health difficulties can be worrying and stressful. Be sure to look after yourself and follow many of the same advice in this article. Eat and sleep well, seek support if you need it, and talk to others about your feelings. The healthier you are, the more able you will be to help your grandchild.