Spotting The Signs of Mental Illness In Teenagers

How can you tell if a person has a mental health condition? Unlike a broken bone, fever, or a runny nose, the symptoms are completely invisible, right? Well, not necessarily. As with any condition, you just need to be aware of what to look out for.

I receive a lot of emails from parents, asking whether I think their child has anxiety or depression. The largest group by far is teenagers. (14 – 19). One mother wrote; “She’s been very emotional lately and stays in her room all the time. But I suppose that’s just normal teenage behaviour, yes?” The phrase ‘normal teenage behaviour’ highlights a problem. Teenagers are generally labelled as being ‘difficult. Things such as, puberty, school, exams, friends, dating and the social media, all leave their mark and cause stress. Making it likely that they’re more emotional and volatile, which is often ignored by adults.

When we’re younger, we only crave the attention of our parents, but as we get older, we crave the approval of our peers. Which can put strain on the parent child relationship. I know when I was a teen, I had countless arguments with my mum about being on my phone too much, what I could wear, and how late I could stay out. I earned a reputation for being dramatic. However, under all that teenage angst, a very real anxiety disorder was beginning to develop. One that was mistaken for raging hormones, even by myself. Everyone presumed that I’d eventually grow out of it.

A huge chunk of the work that I do is mental health awareness and education. The faster a mental illness is diagnosed, the better. Therefore, when I was approached by Benenden last November, it felt like fate. After extensive research, the team have created an animated video to help parents and friends identify potential triggers for anxiety and depression and the key signs they should look out for.
What I love about this video is that it gets straight to the point, whilst remaining informative. Two minutes thirty-eight seconds is the perfect amount of time. It doesn’t go off on a tangent, or start banging on about the history of the company, (which coincidentally is very interesting). It lists nine key symptoms to look out for. No fuss, nothing complicated. It’s easy to understand, whilst being engaging.

I feel that if this was around for my parents to watch fifteen years ago, things wouldn’t been
very different.

I would encourage everyone to give this a watch.

Content such as this will not only help to educate, but also normalise mental illness. It
affects everyone, and support is available.

For more information about staying healthy, check out the Benenden website.



  1. March 12, 2018 / 10:46 am

    Great post, thanks Claire for sharing this video and also for showing support for helping teenagers and youngsters struggling with mental illness. So important to listen to them and not put down their issues as “being part of a teenager”. xx

  2. Jessica Owens
    April 13, 2018 / 5:45 pm

    Hi my names jessica and I’m 17. Most days I feel panicky and find it really hard to hold it together and often break down on teachers, I often feel stressed and not in control and I have had a few experiences that I don’t know how to put it into words and also lack motivation to do school work even though I’m shitting myself about it however I am doing my A levels is this normal or something to worry about

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.