The world is still full of uncertainty. When will the U.S. open up again? Will schools be online or in-person? What will clubs, sports, church, and other activities look like? Will life ever regain a sense of normalcy?
Though we cannot know the answers to all of these questions, one thing we know for sure: this is a new way of life for us and our kids, and they need help navigating the issues they face. For many teens, COVID-19 restrictions may have launched feelings of anxiety and depression, or even exacerbated existing mental health concerns. It’s vital that we take the time as caring adults to help them to sort through their feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
We’ve listed some good questions to get yourself and your teen thinking about the issue of mental health. We pray these questions bring about healthy conversation and deepened relationships.
How to have a mental health check-in with your teen
Personal reflection questions for teens
Before you begin a discussion with your teen, we suggest that you first consider a few things in your own heart. Meditate on these questions and pray for the Lord’s guidance in sorting through the memories and feelings that may arise.
- How has your family addressed mental health until now? Has it been a focus in your home previously, or is this something you’re learning more about now?
- How have you reacted to whatever has happened in your childhood or in your family of origin?
- Where and with whom does your teen feel he/she “belongs”? What evidence do you see of this in his/her life and in your family’s life?
- Have you seen a change in this idea since the beginning of COVID-19 quarantines? (i.e. have school closures, canceled sporting events or clubs, changes in church activity, etc. impacted your teen’s ability to connect and feel he/she “belongs?”)
- What barriers do you feel prevent you from understanding your teen? Can you think of some ways to connect those gaps with your teen?
- What are you doing for yourself in terms of self-care? Do you struggle to find time and space to take care of yourself?
Mental health questions for youth
After you’ve gone through a few of the questions above personally, begin a discussion with your teen. And remember that timing is important when it comes to sensitive topics like mental health, so try to find a time when your teen feels safe and comfortable. And again, pray for the Lord’s wisdom and guidance in entering this talk, allowing Him to speak through you and bring peace and comfort to your teen.
- Have you or has anyone you know ever struggled with depression? Anxiety? What did you or they do to deal with it?
- How do your friends talk about mental health issues? Do you have someone besides me that you can talk to if you’re struggling?
- How do you feel when talking about mental health?
- Do you wish our church/pastors talked about mental health more or differently? If so, how and why?
- What can I do differently to show you that I care about your mental health and do not think less of you if you struggle?
- What does the Bible say about dealing with sorrows and worries? How can that help us when we’re in the midst of depression or anxiety?
- Has anyone ever given you unhelpful advice for dealing with mental health? Why did you find it unhelpful? What would be better?
- How can you and I be more aware of other people’s mental and emotional struggles? How can we help them mentally, physically, and spiritually?
- How are you feeling about the upcoming school year? (P.S. If you have a student starting college in the fall, find some helpful tips on prepping in COVID uncertainty here.)
- How have your friendships changed since quarantine started?
- What are you doing for yourself in terms of self-care? Can I help you brainstorm some ways to practice self-care?
- Have you been using social media more or less since quarantine started? How has it helped or harmed you?
- There’s a lot going on in the media about racial tensions, how are you feeling about that? (P.S. Click here to find more good questions to ask your teen about this topic.)
- Do you feel pressured one way or another to respond to these issues?
- Is there anything that you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or fearful about?
- What’s one thing that brought you joy this week?
- What’s one thing you’re really looking forward to?
- How would you like me to check in with you to see how you’re doing? Do lots of questions make you feel anxious? If so, what would be the best way to help you to stay mentally healthy during this time without over asking all the time?
Did any of these questions spark healthy conversation in your home? We would love to hear from you, so let us know in the comments. And as always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-719-AXIS with any questions and prayer requests you may have.