Signs Your Teen May Need Counseling

Sep 03, 2014
Tagged with: Signs Your Teen May Need Counseling

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, as many as 4 million children and teenagers in the United States have a serious mental illness. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of them receive treatment. Diagnosing mental illness in teens is problematic to begin with. Adolescents’ personalities are still developing, and it’s hard to know what’s normal and what isn’t. Here are a few signs that the teen in your life may need counseling.


Self-harm is any behavior wherein the teen causes injury to him or herself. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common type of self-harm is cutting, but it also includes self-inflicted burns and even broken bones. Evidence of self-harm includes scars, fresh cuts or bruises, and wearing long-sleeved shirts or long pants when it is hot. Consider self-harm as a cry for help.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse usually involves drugs or alcohol, but adolescents are quite inventive. It isn’t uncommon for some of them to get high on cough medicine or by inhaling the gas from aerosol spray cans. In fact, a report published in 2013 by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality found that 38,540 teenagers used inhalants, of which aerosol spray is one.

Uncharacteristic Mood Swings

Moody behavior is part of being teenager, and is not a cause for concern. However, when your teen exhibits mood-swings that are out of the ordinary for him or her, this is a sure sign that something is up. Concerning mood swings are often irrational and may result in reckless or harmful behavior, such as violent outbursts or even unsafe sex.

Physical Complaints

When a previously healthy teenager starts having frequent, unexplained physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, or backaches, it’s could be a cue that he or she is experiencing mental distress. Other physical signs are the failure to shower or comb his or her hair.


Everyone likes to spend a little time alone, especially teenagers. However, when an adolescent completely secludes him or herself and stops participating in family interactions or social activities he or she used to love, this is a signal that something is going on in his or her head.

Suicidal Thoughts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that suicide is a leading cause of death among young people aged 10 through 24. If your teenager expresses a desire to kill him or herself, please take it seriously and get the child into a hospital right away. If you’re interested in confronting this issue directly and helping all adolescents overcome mental illness, pursuing an online masters in counseling will provide the skills you need to fight the suicide epidemic.

Prolonged Sadness

Depression in children and teenagers is a common problem. Roughly 10 to 15 percent of children and teens suffer from depression and one in four will experience at least one episode of severe depression during high school. This isn’t the type of temporary sadness that a teen may feel after an everyday disappointment or an argument with a friend. This sadness is unrelenting and isn’t easily calmed.

Early intervention is important in addressing a teen’s mental health problems. Has your teen recently recovered from his or her struggle? Share your stories and solutions in the comments below.

Author: Bency George