ICTP Director Dr. Susan Caverly was a featured panelist at Sno-Isle Libraries Issues That Matter series on March 7, 2018. Other panelists were ICTP Therapist Rochelle Long, Co-Occurring Disorder Specialist for Stanwood-Camano School District and Megan Boyle, Director of Children’s Intensive Services at Compass Health. Dr. Caverly offered a unique perspective in this panel. She has seen the impact of co-occurring disorders in teens on a professional and a personal level.

The panel discussed some of the treatment options for youth with mental health and/or a co-occurring disorder. They also offered tips for parents for supporting a teen who is struggling

  • Be supportive and present. You might not need to “fix” the problem right away, sometimes just being there and offering empathy is enough.
  • Try to avoid asking a lot of questions. If we ask a teen “How was your day?” they usually will just say, “Fine.” We can sometimes get our teens to open up more if we use a statement instead of a question. You might try, “Tell me about something you learned today.” If something seems “off” you might say, “You seem sad/down today” or “It seems like you’re avoiding your homework today.”
  • Monitor social media accounts. You might decide to use a third-party app to temporarily disable your teens’ accounts or control data/Wi-Fi use.
  • Keep teens involved in prosocial activities, no matter what! These are things like sports, clubs, volunteer work, or other activities that help them learn something new, stay active, give back to the community, or spend time with positive peers or adults. Parents shouldn’t take away prosocial activities even when a teen is acting out or not following rules. Research shows that keeping teens involved in healthy activities with healthy people is good for them, especially when they are struggling.
  • You know your teen the best! Rely on your instincts to help you decide if it’s time to get professional help.
  • If you think your teen has a mental health disorder it is important to get a thorough evaluation. Providers should spend time with the teen individually and also get information from parents about family history.

Other questions from the audience included concerns about “vaping,” psychiatric medications, and how to navigate the mental health system. Watch the replay of the presentation to see how the panelists responded to these and many other questions

If you think your child might have a co-occurring disorder, check out the ICTP FAQ post.

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