Perhaps you are a parent with a teenage daughter? If you are, then it’s likely you worry about her sometimes. It’s also likely that she sometimes tells you that you don’t understand. Well, there may be some truth to that. A recent survey suggests that where health is concerned, what parents worry about and what teenage girls worry about are very different.
Five years ago binge drinking, smoking and drug abuse were the top health concerns of both teenage girls and their parents. A survey this year shows that while parents still have the same concerns, those of girls aged 11-21 are very different.
Top of the list is self-harming, closely followed by smoking, mental illness, depression and eating disorders. Mental health concerns feature highly, and the proportion of girls reporting they had needed help with their mental health rises with age. With 11 to 16 year olds those who had needed help stood at 28%, but for the 17 to 21 year old group it rose to nearly half (46%).
There’s no simple reason for this sudden shift from drugs and alcohol to mental health concerns. Teenage girls are under a lot of pressure, ranging from body image expectations to cyber bullying, and often this isn’t recognised. One of the biggest challenges is the difficulty of asking for help at a time where fitting in and being ‘normal’ is really important to the teenager.
As a parent, the best thing you can do is listen to any concerns your daughter has without judging or dismissing them. Its crucial they feel they can bring concerns to someone who cares, who doesn’t make them feel abnormal, and who won’t dismiss those concerns with a ‘you’ll grow out of it’ type response. Talking about these issues doesn’t make them more likely to happen, but may equip your daughter to deal with whatever comes up later.
If you’d like to talk in confidence about this or other issues, please email me on [email protected]. I offer a free half hour telephone assessment to see if working together could be beneficial for you. If you’d like to understand more about Counselling and Life Coaching please watch my videos at http://www.creativedifference.org.uk/what-is-counselling/ and http://www.creativedifference.org.uk/what-is-coaching/.
Counsellor and Life Coach in Marlborough and Hungerford