“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are”

– Jennifer Lee

You may be a teen who is looking for some support. You may be a worried parent. We can help. Adolescence has its own challenges and can be a really tricky time. Mental illness in teens is common, affecting up to 1 in 5 young people. Mental illness can have a significant affect on how teens relate to others, as well as how they manage in school. Despite being common, there can still be a stigma around mental health, and taking the first step to seek support takes bravery.

Teens at Imagine…

We know coming to therapy can be scary and we aim to make it as easy as possible for you to feel safe. We offer different therapy options. If you prefer to talk online we can do therapy sessions via secure video or messenger. If you would find talking easier on a walk then we can do that. We’re here to help and creating a safe space is our priority.

We know that sharing what you are going through with a stranger might feel uncomfortable. We aim to listen to your voice. We know about mental health. We take it seriously but are not phased by talking about self-harm or suicide or much else. What we know is that talking about it helps. So we want to listen.

We know that mental health issues don’t just affect one person. And we know that when you’re struggling, you need a support team. We see the importance of family. This might mean that we do sessions just with you as a teen. Or we might do sessions just with you as a parent of a teen. Or sessions together. Either way we will have strict policies in place around confidentiality so that you will always feel safe to share (we’ll go through these with you in more detail before we start). But know that if you are a teen or a parent/guardian, we’re here to support you.

We know that making that first step takes courage. Its hard to seek help, especially if you don’t know what that help looks like. We aim to take things at your pace. This means being clear with you about what we’re doing and when and why. This means that you will always have a choice and we won’t force you to change something you aren’t ready to. It means we get that its hard and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Common themes for teens

Bullying is a very real problem for teens affecting 1 in 3 Canadian teens. Social media means that bullying can now happen 24 hours a day. This can lead to sadness, loneliness, withdrawal, low self-esteem and worry. Bullying can have an effect on social relationships and academic learning. Bullying can also be a factor in young people developing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

A little anxiety is normal but when it gets in the way of daily life it can become a problem. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem, affecting 6% of teens. Anxiety can affect all areas of life. Avoidance is a really common response to anxiety, but often can keep it going too. Teens who have Autism or ADHD may also experience anxiety. Anxiety can be treated and does not have to be part of who you are. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a particularly effective treatment.

2020 has been a very different kind of year. Covid-19 has had a big impact on everyone and its completely understandable if you need a bit more support. The way the pandemic has impacted each of us will be different, but for some the increased focus on germs and hygiene may have led to increased anxiety. Others may have struggled to adapt to different routines and transition to the ‘new normal’. Or there might be worries about the future, stress about schoolwork or loneliness.

Depression is a serious mental health condition that is common among young people. However most young people with depression don’t get help. This may partly be because depression in teens is often missed. Behaviours like withdrawal and sleeping during the day can be a normal part of adolescence for some. Depression can also look a little different for teens with sadness often presenting as anger or irritability, which again might be seen as ‘teen’ behaviour. Getting help can be challenging as depression itself can make you think you’re not worth it or treatment won’t work. This is not true. Depression is treatable and we are here when you are ready for help.

Self-harm is often a very misunderstood behaviour. A common misconception is that self-harm is ‘just attention seeking’. In reality, there are lots of reasons why someone self harms, and it is very rarely an effort to get attention. Often self-harm becomes a way of coping with difficult feelings. Self-harm can become addictive and teens can feel a lot of shame and guilt when they struggle to stop doing it. If a young person is self-harming, whatever the reason, it is a sign that they are struggling and need support.

Experiencing suicidal thoughts can be scary and it can feel even scarier to talk about these with someone. Its common to experience suicidal thoughts with depression but they should always be taken seriously and explored more with a professional. Often taking the first step and telling someone how you feel is the hardest. We can support you with strategies to help manage suicidal thoughts as well as addressing the cause of these. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and have not seen a doctor we recommend this as a first step. And for urgent help please visit our resources page.

Adolescence is a time of working out your identity as you move towards independence. Having a low self-esteem or struggling with self-image can be a problem for teens. This can be part of anxiety or depression. Self-image is often a big part of eating disorders too, including anorexia and bulimia. Eating disorders typically start in the teenage years and can be very serious. Getting help early can make a big difference in recovery. Eating disorders are addictions and working on changing habits around food can be very challenging. But recovery is possible. Supporting someone with an eating disorder is key, but can also be challenging. We can support parents/guardians as well as teens affected by eating disorders.

For some teens struggles with schoolwork become problematic. It might be that you are a high achiever but never feel like you meet your own expectations. Sometimes our own expectations will never be achievable. This can create a cycle around perfectionism that can sometimes tie in with problems such as anxiety and depression, self-harm or eating disorders.

Experiencing trauma could include a one-off or a recurring event over any period of time. It could be a car accident, sexual, emotional or physical abuse. Trauma is deeply distressing and may lead someone to struggle to cope with their daily life as a result. Sometimes the experience of trauma can result in post-traumatic stress disorder. This can affect people of all ages and can make everyday life very stressful. For teens struggling with the effects of trauma it is likely that both school and home life will be affected. Dealing with trauma take courage and trust.

Where from here?

If you want more information or are in crisis please visit the resources page. Please get in touch if you have any questions or to get started. Alternatively you can arrange your free thirty minute consultation through our secure online booking system.