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Mental Health

The Youth Mental Health Crisis is Impacting Their Parents, Too

— August 18, 2023

Mental health problems impact everyone in the family.

Perhaps the most concerning part of the ongoing mental health crisis is the way it is impacting young people. There is a wave of depression and anxiety that has been hanging over the heads of countless youths, especially teenagers, creating a nationwide crisis. Not only is this a serious problem that needs to be addressed, but it also seems that the issue is extending to the parents of those young people, as they begin to experience vicarious trauma and a decline in their own mental health as a result.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 20% of adolescents experience a mental health disorder in any given year. Many factors, both genetic and environmental, contribute to this. Individuals who have close family members with a diagnosed mental health condition are more likely to develop one themselves at some point in their lives. Moreover, adolescents face many pressures within their social circles. They are under pressure to perform well in sports and in their academics, as well as conform to peer norms. They can sometimes be the victims of bullying and make risky decisions such as engaging drug and alcohol use or being promiscuous.

When young people are struggling with their mental health, this inevitably impacts their caregivers who will either try to be supportive and get frustrated along the way, or who feel too overwhelmed to face the issue at all. Without intervention from the outside – getting help for families that are impacted – can be helpful, it’s also necessary to ensure that there are healthy boundaries within the family unit.

Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

It’s a noble trait for parents to place their own health aside to focus on that of their children, but this can wind up being to the detriment of all involved. When a parent isn’t able to take time to address their own fears and distress, those struggles can inadvertently have an impact on the child, and a vicious cycle will ensue. Everyone in the situation should be able to take the time they need to get the necessary care to remain on a path toward good mental (and physical) health.

While open lines of communication won’t solve everything, this is a good start. Research indicates that teenagers actually want to talk to their parents about how they’re feeling, even if they don’t tend to verbalize this. If the family stays in constant, open communication with one another, it’s less likely that anyone in the group will need to struggle alone.

As the movement toward the normalization of mental health issues marches on, it’s important for families to take part in that change and be open about their mental health struggles. It’s possible that a parent and child could bond over the challenges they have each experienced and grow closer as a result. Normalizing mental health within the family unit is key to ensuring a sense of strong support.

Tremendous strides have been made in recent years in terms of mental health awareness and acceptance. It’s more permissible to talk about mental health than it ever was before, and that’s certainly a good sign. The job is not done, however. In order to further ease distress, everyone should come together and voice their concerns open and honestly.


As the nation grapples with a youth mental health crisis, parents are suffering too Mental Health

Mental Health Affects the Whole Family

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