One in five teenagers has symptoms of a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression, with suicide being the second leading cause of death for teens. Three-quarters of parents in a new national poll believe that peers have a better understanding of teen challenges compared to teachers or school counselors. When teens speak to their peers about their mental health issues, they are speaking to those who relate to them and they can deal with mental problems more effectively.

Why Teens Prefer to Speak to Their Peers More Than an Adult

A teen may not have a diagnosed condition, but still experiences problems with emotions, peer and family relationships, anxiety, academic challenges, substance abuse, or other issues. Some teens may worry that their parents will overreact or not understand what they are going through. Teachers and counselors also have limited time to speak to students because of their other responsibilities. Some schools have peer support leaders to give teens a safe space to discuss their problems. Teen mentors trained by the school or mental health professionals are available to talk with students on a walk-in basis or when referred to by the school. The mentor’s role is to listen, support problem-solving strategies, share information about resources, and encourage students to seek help when they need it.

Benefits and Concerns of Teen Support

Parents recognize the benefits of teen mentors as the national survey says 38% believe their teen would talk to a peer support leader for their mental health struggles. Forty-one percent of parents believe their teen would take advantage of this option. Some parents, on the other hand, worry about teen confidentiality, if the teen leader would know when and how to inform an adult of a teen’s problem, if the peer leader would recognize immediate crisis help, and if teens are well-trained.

What Parents Can Do About Teen Mentoring Concerns

If you are concerned about your teen being mentored by another teen, give the program a chance first. Speak to a teacher or counselor about how the teen mentoring program works so you can learn how they operate it and the benefits. Being a teen mentor can be beneficial well as they can develop leadership skills and have a better understanding of the challenges that other students face. By understanding that teen mentors are properly trained to see the warning signs of teens as well as their body language, more students will be mentally healthy.

A new national poll shows that teens benefit well by talking to a student who understands what they are going through. Teen mentoring programs can connect students with a well-trained teen leader who recognizes their struggles and is willing to refer them to immediate help once they recognize the warning signs. At Alta Loma, we help men of all ages with their mental help struggles and we are not without the proper resources to help you. Located in Georgetown, Texas, you will receive individualized therapy, medication management, life coping skills education, and more. Please call (866) 457-3843 for more information.