Adolescent Mental Health

Adolescent Mental Health

By Clare Smart LifeWorks Consultant

Adolescent Mental Health

adolescent mental health dubai

Being a teenager and being the parent of a teenager can be a difficult and challenging time.

The physical, emotional and social changes happening at this time can lead you to feel overwhelmed and out of control. It is also a time of big decisions about the future and comes alongside exam pressure. Living in Dubai, and as an expatriate these decisions can be even greater as they may include living in another country from your parents, siblings and friends for the purpose of your education or experiencing loss of friends as they move away.

In the battle for independence and control it is common for teenagers and their parents to disagree as boundaries are tested and experimentation takes place during the emergence of a strong sense of self.

There are no specific mental health problems that are exclusive to adolescence.

Teens tend to either experience childhood disorders such as ADHD, conduct disorder and adjustment disorders. Alternatively they experience what would be considered adult problems like depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

There are some problems that are more common amongst teenagers e.g. Self harm. There are also some disorders which often emerge during adolescence (Anorexia Nervosa).

The signs and symptoms of specific disorders have been detailed in other articles on the LifeWorks website, if you are concerned that you (or your child) may be depressed, anxious, self harming or having eating problems then it is a good idea to read those articles alongside this one.

The differences between normal and abnormal adolescent behaviour can be subtle. It is important that teenagers and parents are aware of potential problems and act on these early, either by talking with their son/daughter or by seeking professional help.

It is expected that teens will find some major life changes difficult, that they will feel unsure use of themselves at times and feel stressed by their studies. It is also usual to want to look nice and to experiment and test out some boundaries. Teenagers will experience feelings of anger, sadness and fear but these should be short lived and they should be able to bounce back from adversity and disappointments. Friendships are important and teenagers should be able to initiate, develop and maintain healthy friendships and to be aware of their own emotions and be empathic to others feelings.

Some of the indicators that a teenager may be having problems or that they are finding life difficult to cope with can include:

  • Noticeable changes in energy levels, sleep and eating patterns
  • Changes in mood (e.g crying often)
  • Secretive behaviour and lying
  • Concerns from School or involved others (e.g Sports Coach)
  • Avoiding school or persistent truancy
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Extreme and undesirable persistent behaviour
  • Risk taking behaviour (e.g sexually, legally or health wise)
  • Exam stress causing illness or low self worth
  • Long lasting feelings of sadness, anger or fear
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Preoccupation with appearance or body image
  • Self harm
  • What can be helpful?

    As a parent, dont ignore or trivialise the problems that your teenager is reporting. Take them seriously and keep calm and be consistent in your response to what they are telling you.

    Help them to learn how to identify and express their difficult feelings and look out for moments when they may be more comfortable to talk to you. Encourage them to keep a healthy sleep, study, eating, relaxation and exercise routine and engage them in pleasurable experiences.

    Praise them and encourage their positive thoughts, feelings and behaviour when they occurs and support them in their individual expression. Try not to criticise them and avoid teasing.

    If you are worried about your son or daughter and feel that you would like to talk with someone or to make an appointment for your child then please call LifeWorks to schedule an appointment. I am happy to answer your queries if you wish to contact me by email.

    If you are a teenager and you are feeling depressed or anxious then please tell someone. This person could be a parent, teacher, school counsellor or someone else that you can trust. If you think that you would like to speak to a counsellor then you could ask this person to help you arrange that.

    Clare Smart
    clare smart lifeworks

    For more information about Adolescent mental health please call 043942464 or email Clare at LifeWorks -

    I promise to reply quickly

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