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Expert Answers

Teens are at a stage in their lives where they begin to feel adult thoughts and emotions but don’t always have the knowledge or experience to deal with them. They also face enormous social pressure from their peers and the media to fit in, cope with hectic social schedules, and keep up with their academic load. When things become overwhelming, teens need someone to talk to who can lend them the support they need.

Parental Support

If you have trouble talking to your parents about your emotions, you are not alone. Because your parents are always there and so vested in your welfare, they may find it difficult to be let go, give you impartial advice, and allow you to make your own decisions. Even though you may find it uncomfortable or difficult, you should still turn to your parents when things get tough. KidsHealth.org has specific suggestions that may help to get the discussion started:

  • Think about what you want to say. It is easy to lose your train of thought or get off track in these kinds of discussions. Making a list of what you want to cover can help the conversation stay focused.
  • Articulate your needs. Let your parents know if you are trying to get their moral support, advice or permission.
  • Open up about your feelings. Tell your parents that you are embarrassed to speak to them about a particular topic or that you are worried that they may be disappointed in you.
  • Choose the right time. Starting a deep discussion with your parents when they are rushing to get to work or busy making dinner is doomed to fail.

Peer Support

You may spend a lot of time communicating with your close friends, especially about dating and sex, but talking to them about other teen feelings may not be that simple. If you have thoughts, feelings or problems that may make you seem different from your friends, peer pressure might stop you from talking to them about those things. Seek out other teens who have the same problems, as they will know how to talk to you, and you will find it easier to open up. If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes, for example, talking with other diabetic teens about how they handle their daily routines can be very beneficial.

Support at School

The teachers and counselors at your school are often in a good position to take on a parenting role to help with simple issues. They will usually keep the information you tell them confidential if you ask them to, or they can act as a bridge between you and your parents.

Support From Experts

When it comes to problems such as drug or alcohol abuse or addiction, or if you suspect you have some mental health issues, it is important to seek assistance from expert counselors. This can involve counseling that is specific to your needs and problems, carried out by professionals who have specialized expertise. The counselor will determine the severity of the problem and what treatment is needed.

Taking the First Step

Sometimes admitting that you need help is the most difficult part of the process, particularly if you are a teen boy. A study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that teen girls are more likely to seek moral support from friends, while teen boys usually turn to family members. When it comes to mental health issues, however, boys are often worried about social stigma and less willing to seek out and use professional mental health services.

When you feel your problems are overwhelming and that you need to speak to someone, don’t be afraid to start the discussion, whether it is with parents, teachers or friends. Even if they can’t help you solve your problems, they can give you the support you need to seek the help of professionals.

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