The Warning Signs Every Parent Should Look Out For

October 9, 2018

Psychology startup, ‘Speak Teen’ has launched a pioneering new service designed to prevent and treat mental illness in young people. Led by Davina Donovan and supported by the Australian government’s Medicare Better Access Scheme, the teen coaching offering provides virtual or face-to-face access to support for youngsters and their parents in a non-medical setting, enabling families to feel more comfortable and open to seeking help when they need it.

  • 75% of mental illness starts before the age of 24

  • 14% of children and teenagers in Australia have a diagnosable mental health problem

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15 to 44

Parents often unintentionally miss the warning signs that something is wrong with their teenager as it can be difficult to differentiate normal behaviour from the warning signs of a teen not coping.

Three warning signs parents should look out for:

  1. Any change in what is considered ‘normal’ behaviour for your child should be addressed as changing behaviour can indicate a problem.

  2. Withdrawal from social activities can suggest something is not right. There will be times when a teenager won’t participate in their usual activities however if a parent sees a consistent pattern of isolation from family, friends and activities this should be addressed.

  3. The mood of your teen is another common warning sign. The teenage years are fraught with highs and lows in emotion and this is normal (in young men, anger is not uncommon and in young women, sadness). However, if you notice your teenager experiencing these emotions frequently, without a shift back to their ‘normal self’, there might be a problem and this should be addressed.

Identifying that not enough was being done to find a solution to the mental health epidemic, Speak Teen Founder and Psychologist, Davina Donovan says, “We shouldn’t be treating problems like teen anxiety, depression, gaming addiction, bullying, suicide, low self esteem, drug and alcohol abuse or moodiness, when we can take steps to avoid them altogether”.

The Australian Government National Survey of Research Commercialisations (NSRC) states, “The large number of young people with mental health problems stands in contrast to the limited number of trained clinicians available to help them. There is a need to develop alternative approaches to reduce the prevalence of child and adolescent mental health problems”.

Davina continues: “Too many families are disconnected and increasing numbers of teenagers are running away from home, dying by suicide and getting caught up in unsafe activities, while parents watch on helplessly. It is our mission at Speak Teen to offer a convenient solution to both teenagers and their parents to access help.  Many teenagers have a soccer coach and netball coach but a ‘teen coach’ is perhaps the most important.

A Speak Teen coach equips teenagers and their parents with social, emotional and mental strategies to help them navigate the most challenging years of their lives. Sessions are bespoke to the family involved and techniques may include mindfulness, skill-building, resiliency training and self-esteem building.  Evidence-based techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and interpersonal therapy are also used to help parents and teenagers reconnect and move forward.

Speak Teen Founder & Psychologist, Davina Donovan says, “Teenagers are telling Speak Teen coaches things that they’re not telling their parents and it’s not secrets about parties or risky behaviour, rather insights about their homes and relationships that many parents are often surprised to hear.”

  • They feel lonely even when around friends and family

  • They feel invisible

  • Don’t feel good enough despite parents saying positive things

“Teens are hypersensitive to criticism. Our coaches listen and validate whereas parents unintentionally make judgements and assumptions.”

Speak Teen offers in-home coaching for Queensland residents in the Gold Coast, Ipswich, Redland Bay, Redcliffe, Sunshine Coast, and Brisbane regions. Virtual coaching is available for families nationwide and internationally.

The Australian Government will meet parents half-way with a $106.55 rebate on outreach coaching sessions with a GP Mental Health Care Plan.

Speak Teen is now accepting new families and invites you to secure a teen coach for your family today at www.speakteen.com.au.

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