Teen Mental Health Awareness & Divorce

March 1, 2024
Erika Holter

Article written by Erika Holter

According to the World Health Organization, one in seven kids between the ages of 10 and 19 struggle with their mental health. Especially when parents are navigating a divorce, the strain on your teenager can be overwhelming. This Teen Mental Health Day, learn how you and your co-parent can best support your teen and their mental well-being during this tough time. 

Mother comforting teenage son

Helping Your Teen Through Divorce

Prioritizing your teen's mental health during your divorce is critical. Here are some key strategies for supporting your teen through the process while fostering a healthy co-parenting relationship.

1. Maintain Open Communication

Make sure your teen knows they can talk to you about how they're feeling.  Establish an environment where they feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions. It’s okay for them to feel upset or confused. You're there to listen and help. Encourage open dialogue about the divorce and its implications on their lives. Assure them that their feelings are valid and that both parents are there to support them.

2. Preserve Routine and Stability

Try to keep things as normal as possible and maintain consistency for your teen. Stick to regular routines like going to school and spending time with family and friends. It helps them feel safe and secure. Divorce often brings about major changes in a teen's life. Routine consistency includes providing stable living arrangements, school schedules, extracurricular activities, and family traditions. This level of predictability can provide a sense of security during uncertain times.

Indian dad helping daughter with school work

3. Seek Professional Support

If you find your teen is struggling significantly, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a therapist or counselor specializing in adolescent mental health. Professional guidance can offer tremendous support to your teen as they navigate the emotional complexities of divorce. Additionally, you can also try family therapy, where everyone can talk and share together.

Warning signs that your teen could benefit from professional mental health support include:

  • Changes in behavior: If your teen starts acting differently, like being more quiet or getting mad easily, they might be struggling.
  • Problems in school: Watch out for changes in grades or if your teen doesn't want to go to school anymore.
  • Physical symptoms: Sometimes stress can make teens feel sick, and can manifest in physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or changes in sleeping patterns.

Successful Co-Parenting Strategies

Healthy co-parenting after divorce creates a supportive and nurturing environment for children to grow and thrive. This can make a huge difference on your teen's mental health. Check out the following co-parenting strategies that puts your teen's mental well-being first. 

1. Put Your Teen First

Despite any lingering tension between you and your co-parent, prioritize your teen's well-being above all else. Focus on cooperative co-parenting strategies that prioritize your teen's physical and emotional needs. Remind yourselves that you are partners in parenting, even if you are no longer partners in marriage.

Caring parents supporting teenage son

2. Maintain Consistency and Open Communication

Consistency between co-parents is key to providing stability for your teen. Collaborate with your ex-spouse to establish consistent rules, expectations, and disciplinary measures across both households.

Foster open and respectful communication with your co-parent regarding your teen's welfare. Share relevant information about your teen's activities, achievements, and concerns. Keep discussions focused on your teen's best interests and refrain from engaging in conflicts or blame games. It's less confusing for your teen if everyone is on the same page.


3. Seek Legal Assistance Where Required

In cases where conflicts between co-parents threaten to affect the well-being of your teen, consider seeking mediation or legal intervention. A family law attorney can provide guidance on navigating custody arrangements, parenting plans, or modifications to existing court orders to ensure the best interests of your teen are upheld.

4. Look out for Red Flags

If you observe persistent or escalating signs of distress in your teen, such as self-harm, substance abuse, or suicidal ideation, take immediate action. Do not hesitate to seek professional help from mental health professionals or emergency services.

Psychologist supporting depressed teen boy

Presenting a United Front

Supporting your teen's mental health during and after divorce requires proactive measures, vigilant observation, and collaborative co-parenting efforts. By prioritizing open communication, stability, and a child-centered approach, you can help your teen navigate this challenging transition with resilience and strength. You are not alone in this journey, and seeking support from professionals and loved ones can make all the difference.