Parents and Teachers Role on Adolescents Mental Health

The difficult transition from childhood to adulthood creates a crisis that must be faced by adolescents. However, in reality not all adolescents can solve their problems well. They need help from people around them, but not all will be honest that they are not doing well. Therefore, parents and teachers should be more aware of the following things that are happening to adolescents.

  1. Changes in sleeping habits
  2. Loss of interest in activities 
  3. A decrease in learning performance, concentration and demotivation
  4. A decrease or increase in appetite 
  5. Extreme mood swings
  6. Increased in isolation/withdrawal
  7. Suicide ideas or having thoughts of killing oneself

If parents and teachers are not successful in overcoming this problem, it can have a serious impact on the child’s mental health and will require help from a professional. With the involvement of parents and teachers, it can help them learn to deal with stressors and manage their physical and mental health.

The Role of Parents  

  1. Helping adolescents get through the ups and downs of life, not protecting them from every possible failure that may happen in the future
    As humans, we can’t win all the time like adolescents. Everyone has their shares of failures and this is important for their development, because they will learn how to overcome disappointments, bounce back and find the strength to try again. Starting from teenage years, children need to understand that there is a balance between positive and challenging experiences, so that this can help them to grow into adults that are confident and capable.
  1. Helping Adolescents find and be in a healthy environment
    Parents also need to pay attention to the environment of adolescents. This is because a healthy environment will help to develop a healthy brain as well. This healthy environment includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, having positive social and family relationships, and being able to cope with life’s challenges.
  1. Parents are mirrors that children use to see themselves
    Many theories on identity claim that we begin to understand ourselves by understanding how others see us. Parents play an important role in building the identity of a child, this is because if a child is constantly made to feel capable by their families, then they tend to believe that they themselves are capable and vice-versa. So as a parent, never underestimate the interaction with adolescents, because this can affect their feelings. 

The Role of Teachers

  1. Showing examples of proper behaviors
    The relationship that is built between teachers and students will shape a student's behavior. Teachers are responsible for providing examples of appropriate behavior for students to learn. According to Bandura, 70% of all learned behavior is acquired through modeling. When modeling is done through the right relationships and in the right social context, replication of student behavior can be expected. This modeling can be done very simply through everyday behavior, for example mutual respect, help, or the way teachers deal with conflicts, and so on. In essence, students can develop healthy behavior in a variety of situations.
  1. Providing space for emotional expression
    As an educator, teachers need to know about times of crisis that could happen to their students, such as depressed mood, stress, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, and so on. This is important, because a teacher is one of the people that students can trust to share their feelings to. So, teachers need to provide space for students to feel what they are experiencing. There is no requirement for teachers to always have answers, but it is enough for teachers to support and be active listeners for their students. In addition, providing a safe space and fostering trust is also important. Because when adolescents feel as if they are not believed, they may isolate themselves further and have fatal consequences for the adolescents mental health later in the future.
  1. Helping students understand their feelings
    When students are at the stage of overcoming their feelings, then this is a good opportunity for the teacher to encourage him to understand the problems at hand. Not all students are willing and able to talk about their feelings, so encourage them to do so. Learning to open up and explain how they feel can also be good practice for the future.

What Should We Do When Adolescents Are Anxious?

At the time of adolescence, children may even be very likely to feel anxious, especially when experiencing something relatively new to them. As teachers and parents, the first thing to do when they are anxious is to make sure your child feels loved, safe, and trusted. Show the adolescents that you are trying to understand their feelings and ask them to talk about what they are worried about. Help them slowly, until they are willing to admit negative thoughts. After they admit the thoughts they have, then give an understanding that having such thoughts is a natural thing. There is nothing wrong with talking like friends with adolescents, using less formal words can provide comfort for them when they tell their stories.

How Can We Help and Support Adolescent Mental Health Development?

As Parents
  1. Applying Authoritative/Democratic Parenting Style
    Authoritative/democratic parenting style in which parents provide sufficient warmth and involvement, but are also firm and consistent in setting and enforcing rules, boundaries and expectations that are appropriate to adolescent development. According to Steinberg, this is related to having positive mental development outcomes in children, such as independence, achievement, motivation, prosocial behaviors, self-control, cheerfulness and social trust.
  1. Parental involvement in children’s academic and emotional development
    Involvement at home:
    Setting time limits for homework and free time, and monitoring the child’s progress in school.
    Involvement in school: Communication between teachers and parents and attendance at school events.
    Academic Socialization: Communicating academic expectations, the importance of education, and making plans and preparations with children that support their future goals. 
    This can improve a child’s academic success as well as mental health both directly and indirectly through behavioral and emotional involvement.
  1. Emotion coaching
    According to Hooven, ‘emotion coaching’ is when parents are involved in teaching children to recognize, realize and manage their own emotions to minimize negative impacts. Not the other way around, where children have to suppress or ignore their feelings, or even scold them for expressing their feelings, which is also known as ‘emotion dismissing’. Children who are taught to understand the negative emotions they feel rather than ignore or suppress it, can minimize negative impacts through awareness and the ability to handle themselves.

As a Teacher

The involvement of teachers is also important for the development of adolescents' mental health, especially in schools. Teachers can create a positive learning environment in schools, such as:

  1. Communicating clearly and flexibly
    Not infrequently the anxiety that occurs in adolescents comes from school demands that they cannot fulfill. Therefore, teachers need to implement a positive classroom climate by providing clear expectations for student behavior. This can start with setting a consistent schedule that is communicated to students, flexibility in deadlines, and other academic support.
  2. Giving relevant instructions and initiates positive peer interactions
    In supporting the success of students in building positive relationships, teachers can provide personal instructions according to the interests and talents of students, so that they can express themselves more. In addition, giving class projects that are carried out together in pairs or groups can also help students feel connected and become part of the class community.
  3. Showing respect
    Showing respect can be done by respecting each other. Effective teachers (responsive to students’ problems), respecting student’s perspectives, respecting student’s contributions in problem solving, and showing respect during interactions with students can be factors that support the creation of a positive classroom climate.