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Cascade Canyon

Teen Mental Health



As a parent, you want the best for your child. You want their life to be bright, fulfilling, and free from worry and struggle. Unfortunately, life isn’t perfect, and every individual faces their own set of challenges.

The teen years are some of the most difficult to navigate in a person’s life, but they are also filled with opportunities to develop and grow. For some teens, poor mental health and substance abuse become barriers to personal growth and wellbeing.

This generation’s teenagers struggle with mental health and substance use more than any generation prior. Teens and their families all over the United States are being confronted with challenges and trials that they aren’t equipped to deal with. Fortunately, there are many people who have devoted their lives to helping teens find their way, and a lot of them work at Sandstone Care.

Teen Mental Health Warning Signs

Teen mental health disorders including anxiety, depression, trauma, self-harm, and substance use rarely just happen out of the blue but instead have a variety of warning signs to be aware. As a parent, you should know theses warning signs to help catch issues before they progress.

Some of the common warning signs for Teen Mental Health Concerns:

  • Sudden decline in academic performance
  • Increased agitation or anger
  • Low self-esteem or self loathing
  • Increased isolation, loss of interest in social activities
  • Increased anxiety or nervousness
  • Shift in communication openness and style
  • Not eating enough, missing meals
  • Manic behavior

Our Approach to Teen Mental Health Treatment

Providing your teen with the chance to get their life back on track is one of the best things you could do as a parent. This will look different for everyone, but it all starts with accepting that your teen needs more support than you can currently provide. Teen substance use or mental health challenges often disrupt the entire family dynamic. When one member of the family is going through something, the entire family goes through it as well. That’s why we believe in treating and providing support for the whole family, not just the symptomatic individual.

Treatment. Sandstone Care offers a full continuum of care for teens who are in need of substance abuse and mental health treatment, including residential treatment, intensive outpatient programs, and a partial hospitalization program. 

Cascade Canyon Teen Residential program is located in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, and is staffed 24/7 by a caring, professional, and attentive group of individuals. 

Our team includes psychiatrists, individual and family therapists, medical doctors, registered nurses, addiction counselors, and a registered dietician.

Our Goal

The main goal of our teen residential program is to create a safe and supportive environment where teens can begin to explore the things they’re going through, and put the pieces of their lives back together. During treatment, we provide support to the entire family, not just the teenager in our program. We place a very strong emphasis on family involvement, as we believe that every member of the family deserves to feel hope and healing.

How Teen Residential Can Help

Teen Substance Abuse

Teenagers are in a phase of their life that is full of curiosity, experimentation, and pressure. Over half of all new drugs users are under the age of 18, and it’s not uncommon for their experimentation to lead to physical dependency, worsened mental health, and addiction. Teens who are using drugs and alcohol don’t usually realize or understand the risks involved with their actions. Therefore, they have little motivation to stop their substance use. There are several reasons why your teen may have begun their drug and alcohol use, but the “why” is different for everyone. Some of the reasons that teens begin to use drugs and alcohol include peer pressure, academic stress, curiosity, and avoidance of mental health symptoms like depression or anxiety. Teenage substance use is a dangerous path to go down, so catching it early when possible is extremely important.

Here are some signs your teen may be using drugs or alcohol:

  • Chronic “smokers cough” with no medical cause
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Secretive and isolative behaviors
  • Poor hygiene and personal appearance
  • Emotional instability or moodiness
  • Inability to communicate effectively
  • Stealing, or a sudden need for money that they cannot explain
  • Inability to focus on simple tasks

Although many of these could be written off as typical teen behavior, if your child is exhibiting more than one of these symptoms, it may be time to consider the possibility that they could be using drugs or alcohol. 

Talking to your teen. When talking to your teen about what’s going on, they may become hostile, defensive, or angry. It’s important for you to remain calm and composed while talking to them, even if you’re feeling the same way they are.

Considering the right program. As a parent, one of your primary goals is for your teen to feel cared for and safe. You want to provide them with the best environment possible, and so does Sandstone Care. At our Cascade Canyon Teen Residential Program, we strive to build a safe and sustainable environment where teens can begin to explore the real reason behind their drug or alcohol use. 

Reaching out. As difficult as it is to admit, most parents are not equipped to deal with a teen substance abuse on their own. There is no shame in reaching out when you and your family needs help. Talking with of our skilled and passionate admissions coordinators could provide you with a professional opinion about your teen’s situation, as well as guide you towards the next best step for your family.

Teen Depression

Depression affects around 20% of all teenagers before they reach adulthood, with only 30% of them receiving the treatment that they need. It’s often difficult to recognize when your teen is experiencing depression, as symptoms can be easily mistaken for teens just being teens. Though it can appear similar on the outside, there is a difference between teen depression and the normal things that teenagers go through. There are several different causes of depression in teenagers. Emotional, social, and physical changes are all happening, on top of high academic expectations and increased social judgement, which can be overwhelming to a teenager.

If your teen is experiencing depression, it affects every part of their life. Their thoughts, feelings, and actions will all begin to shift, but they may not be noticeable at first. Some of the symptoms of teen depression include: 

  • Lack of energy, fatigue, or general exhaustion
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on one thing at a time
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or failure
  • Disturbed or changed sleep patterns such as sleeping in excess or not sleeping during the night
  • Self-medicating using drugs or alcohol in an attempt to dull emotional distress or pain
  • A sense of sadness, hopelessness, or despair

Treating Teen Depression

There is no one-size-fits-all way of treating teen depression, but there are specific therapeutic modalities that have been proven to help teens confront the difficult emotions that they’re experiencing. The first step to getting help for your teen is talking to them. 

Talking to your teen. When talking with your teen about the things they’re going through, you may feel frustration or even anger. Your teen may feel attacked and become defensive, but it’s important to remain calm and express to your teenager that you’re only talking to them about this because you can about them. 

Seeking professional help. It’s extremely difficult to admit, but teen depression is often outside of the realm of things that parents know how to handle. Reaching out to one of Sandstone Care’s caring admissions coordinators to talk about what your teen is going through will provide you with a professional opinion about your situation. It will also guide you towards the best next step for your child and your family, so that all of you can begin to heal.

Teen Anxiety

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five teenagers is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at some point in their adolescence. While all teens experience nervousness or symptoms of anxiety at some point in their life, there is a significant difference between an anxiety disorder and the normal anxiety of the teen years.

Teenagers are facing an enormous amount of stress and pressure. Between school, extra curriculars, preparing for college, and social pressures, it’s normal to for teens to experience some symptoms of anxiety. It can be difficult for a parent to know when everyday stress has crossed the line into being a serious issue like an anxiety disorder.

Here are some signs that your teen may be suffering from an anxiety disorder:

  • Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
  • Poor academic performance
  • Avoidance of social interactions, certain places, things, or events that trigger anxiety
  • Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol as a form of coping
  • Trouble sleeping at night & exhaustion

Treating Teen Anxiety

Often, the worry and stress that teens experience isn’t rational. They may be questioning whether they are good enough, wondering if they are a cause of conflict in the family, or feeling like they’re a burden to those around them.

Talking to your teen. When talking to your teen about their anxiety, it’s important to reassure them that you’re only confronting them about this because you care about them. They may feel attacked and become defensive, but it’s important for you to remain calm and provide them with emotional support.

Seeking professional help. It may be difficult to admit, but teen anxiety disorders are often outside of the realm of things parents know how to deal with. There is no shame in reaching out for extra support when your child is dealing with these symptoms and thoughts. In fact, you’re doing the best thing for them.

Reaching out to one of our dedicated admissions coordinators to talk about what your teen is going through will provide you with a professional opinion about your situation, as well as guide you towards the best next step.

Teen Trauma

As a parent, you want nothing more than to protect your child from everything bad in the world. When your child experiences something traumatic, its jarring not only to them, but also to you and the rest of your family.

Unfortunately, teen trauma is a not a rare occurrence, with about 61% of teenagers from ages 13-17 reporting exposure to at least one traumatic event in their life. Traumatic events can occur in a variety of forms, such as witness or being involved in an accident, sexual assault, physical or emotional abuse, or death of a loved one.

When a teenager experiences a traumatic event, it disrupts their entire life. Their grades, extra curriculars, and relationships begin to suffer. It’s also not uncommon for teens to lose some of their ability to communicate effectively with those around them. They may not be capable of acknowledging the reality of their situation, they may feel judged for what they’ve been through, or be unable to express the unfamiliar thoughts that they’re experiencing.

Teens who have experienced a traumatic event may begin to act out in ways that are harmful to themselves or those around them. This is a key sign that professional help and intervention is necessary in order to heal from the traumatic event that they’ve experienced.

Here are some symptoms of teen trauma that indicate your teen would benefit from professional help: 

  • Threats of violent acts that would cause harm to themselves or others
  • Regular panic attacks or other symptoms of anxiety
  • Using drugs and/or alcohol as a way of self-medicating in order to “numb out”
  • Experiencing depression or symptoms of suicidality
  • Appearing numb or emotionless

When Trauma Becomes PTSD

Teen trauma can all lead to PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a classified as type of anxiety disorder. It often includes nightmares, flashbacks, overwhelming fear and worry, anxiety attacks, and avoidance of things or places that remind them of their trauma.

Healing From Trauma

In order to heal from trauma, teens must feel safe and be able to let their guard down. The experienced and passionate team at Cascade Canyon knows how to help teens who are struggling after a traumatic event. Our goal is to address your teen as a whole person, and get to the root of their symptoms. 

Seeking Professional Help. As difficult as it is to admit, teen trauma is not something parents are often equipped to handle without support from a mental health professional. There is no shame in reaching out for help when your child is struggling. We understand that when your child is hurting, so are you. 

Reaching out to one of our dedicated admissions coordinators to talk about what your teen is going through will provide you with a professional opinion about your situation, as well as guide you towards the best next step.

Teen Self-Harm

Teenagers deal with a variety of challenging and stressful things every single day. Between school, extra-curriculars, preparing for college, and social pressures, it’s no surprise that many teens find themselves overwhelmed and lacking the skills to deal with their conflicting and challenging emotions.

Self-harm refers to hurting oneself on purpose without the intention of ending one’s life. Teens who are engaging in behaviors that are self-destructive will do things such as burning, scratching, or cutting themselves, banging their head or body against solid objects like walls, or hitting themselves. Behaviors like these become an unhealthy method of coping with uncomfortable emotions like pain, guilt, self-hatred, guilt, anxiety, or worry.

Getting to the Root of Self-Harm

Self-harm is an unhealthy coping mechanism that provides the individual engaging in the behavior with a temporary sense of relief and calm. It’s not uncommon for self-harming behaviors to turn into a compulsion that teens feel they must engage in when they are experiencing a specific type of emotion.

On its own, self-harm is not a mental illness. However, self-harm is a symptom of severe emotional distress and often accompanies serious mental health conditions like teen depression and anxiety. Teens who are engaging in self-harm are typically very secretive, as they don’t want to be found out or have their habits discovered.

Some signs that your teen might be self-harming include:

  • Unexplained scratches, bruises, cuts, or scars that appear on the body, usually on the wrists, thighs, arms, and or torso.
  • Wearing seasonally inappropriate clothing or covering their body in an attempt to hide wounds
  • Expressing feelings of depression, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Withdrawing from society and isolating themselves
  • Blood stains on clothing, bedding, or towels
  • Avoidance of situations where they would need to reveal skin, such as changing in a locker room or swimming

Addressing Self-Harm

Once you become aware that your teenager is struggling with self-harm, it’s important that you address it right away, as self-harm can have dangerous and permanent consequences, as well as continue to negatively impact mental health.

Talking to your teen about self-harm can be confusing, uncomfortable, and cause you to feel angry or upset. It’s important to educate yourself on self-harm prior to talking to your child about what they’re going through.

Self-harm is not something that most parents are equipped to handle on their own. It’s easy to blame yourself, yell, threaten, and criticize your teen and their behavior, but staying calm and expressing your concern and love for your teen is important in order for you to have a productive conversation with them.

Seeking Professional Help. Reaching out to a Sandstone Care admissions coordinator can provide you and your family with the support you need as you navigate the challenges of getting help for your teen.

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