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Adolescent Development and Mental Health Concerns

5 min read

Adolescent development is a time of significant change. I remember someone once saying that it’s like Halloween—you watch your teen try on different identities as they go through the process of trying to figure themselves out!

Adolescent Development and Mental Health Concerns - BC Parent Newsmagazine

Puberty can be the tipping point for some teens when it comes to mental health and sense of self. It’s very common that a child who was experiencing mental health concerns in the tween years struggles more once they hit puberty. An anxious child may develop depression, OCD or severe social anxiety. A child with ADHD may not have been that impacted in elementary school but with the extra demands of adolescent development and high school classes, ADHD can cause significant impairment in the teen years.

A highly sensitive child or teen, known as an orchid child, is also more vulnerable and more at risk for struggling. To learn more about orchid kids versus dandelion kids read this summary: sharonselby.com/anxiety/do-you-have-an-orchid-child-or-a-dandelion-child.

What is Sextortion?
Every Child Needs to Know

Teens have a lot to deal with these days that we didn’t have to deal with in our own adolescent development. I recently wrote an article about Sexting and the Amanda Todd Case.

Sextortion is a real danger for our kids. Carol Todd has spent the last ten years, in honour of her late daughter, Amanda—victim of sextortion, creating education and awareness so other teens don’t have to go through the tragic events that Amanda went through. Sadly, the news has recently reported that Daniel Lints, age 17 from Manitoba was the victim of sextortion in February, which led to him dying by suicide just hours after he experienced sextortion.

Every child and teen needs to be informed— they need to know what sextortion is. They need to understand that these predators pose as teenagers and create attractive profiles on social media platforms such as Snapchat so they can convince the targeted teen to send nudes and sexual videos. As soon as this happens, extortion soon follows.

Adolescent Development and Mental Health Concerns - BC Parent Newsmagazine

Billie Eilish Interviews Demonstrate Adolescent Development
When teens are going through a hard time, we try to help them realize that this time of adolescent development can be full of challenges. We try to give them encouragement that things can get much better in their twenties, but it can be hard for them to believe that things can be better.

I am very grateful that Vanity Fair has documented the adolescent development of Billie Eilish, a twenty-year-old American singer-songwriter. For the last five years, they have interviewed Billie and asked her the exact same questions each year from age 15 to age 20. You can watch each interview separately or you can watch the most recent interview which includes video clips from the earlier ones.

It’s wonderful proof to see someone who has gone through hard times, and struggled with mental health issues but now at age 20 is getting to the other side. Twenty-year-old
Billie is very different from fifteen-year-old Billie. Seeing her laugh at her younger self and seeing her be so much more confident these days is very encouraging.

I often recommend that teens watch the Vanity Fair Interviews or at least the most recent one. It gives them a new perspective on adolescent development.

It’s also very helpful for parents to watch too, to remember that your teen is going through a teenage metamorphosis, and maintaining a strong connection with at least one parent is extremely important.

Beyond Vaping Nicotine
Do you remember when American basketball player, Britney Griner was detained in Russia for having vape cartridges containing hashish oil?

Teens would describe her as having a “dab pen” with “carts” so she could take “dabs”.

Many adults see teens vaping and believe that this is the alternative to cigarettes. It’s true that many kids are vaping for the nicotine effects (“nic sick”) but there are many who are using dab pens as a way of vaping / inhaling high percentages of THC and getting very high through these scentless dab pens.

These pens don’t give off any marijuana smell so teens can be getting high, without being detected, at school, at home, at work or wherever they choose, multiple times per day and through the night.

Many adults don’t know these dab pens and carts exist so they don’t know to have conversations with their children about the high risk of vaping such high levels of THC.
These dab pens, and vapes in general, have not been around long enough for us to see the long-term damage. It’s extremely concerning to think what is happening to their lungs and brains.

It’s impossible to be in-the-know with everything teens are exposed to these days, but by doing everything you can to remain connected, and be a good listener, you’ll have more opportunity to hear from them.

As Dr. Gordon Neufeld says: “You cannot teach the mind, until you have the heart.”

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