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Warning signs for parents with suicidal and depressed teens

Published Sep 11, 2023


Johannesburg - Claudette Marais, a clinical psychologist based at the Life Brackenview Hospital, a mental healthcare facility, said parents should be aware of mental health warning signs in order to assist with supporting teen mental health needs.

Marais recommends that families be proactive about managing their mental health.

‘’We need to be outside. We need hobbies and extra-mural activities. We need family and friends for support. The pandemic took all these away in an instant. We have also learned that loneliness hurts our mental health, especially for teenagers,’’ said Marais.

Specific factors contribute to poor mental health among teens. Difficulty communicating with peers is an issue, as is the stigma regarding mental health, which can lead to bullying and feeling ashamed.

Marais highlights a few mental-health red flags that parents should be aware of. Indications of teenage depression include:

  • Sleep disorders.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • School marks dropping significantly.
  • When a child starts talking about death.
  • Worrying social media status updates.
  • Alcohol or drug use.
  • Self-harm

‘’Our main goal is to normalise mental health. Let us educate ourselves and become aware of our own mental health needs and those of our loved ones. Let us be brave enough to face the new normal and all of the emotions that come with it,’’ said Marais.

Meanwhile, according to the second annual Money Stress Tracker (July 2023), which polled subscribers to debt counselling company DebtBusters’ website and platform, it attracted more than 35 000 responses, which indicated that three out of four South Africans feel money stress—12% more than the previous year.

Psychotherapist and transactional analyst Diane Salters says people facing severe debt threats are likely to feel shame and fear.

Un-addressed mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, cost the South African economy an estimated R161 billion per year, according to Investec Focus Radio SA.

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0800 567 567.

The Star

Related Topics:

Mental Health