Mental Wellness for Kids and Teens

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Growing up is difficult—it always has been. But more recently, the challenges that kids and teens face seem even more daunting. From cyberbullying to digital learning, many issues they encounter are new and uncharted territory for parents and guardians. In addition, the late teenage years are known to be the time when mental illnesses are most likely to manifest.

So how can we support our loved ones as they encounter some of their most difficult years?

Audience Questions

In this session, Dr. Lisa W. Coyne discusses the importance of mental wellness in children and adolescents and answers audience questions about child and teen mental health.

  • Why should parents and guardians be so aware of mental wellness for kids and teens?
  • How can we try to shift kids’ routines and acknowledge that they might need their own time to decompress without letting them totally go off the rails?
  • When looking at the role of responsibility in the family, how do we acknowledge a kid’s importance without making it seem like they’re going to be growing up too fast?
  • People are getting tired of hearing that kids are resilient. After 10 months of this, should we continue to lean heavily on kids’ resiliency, considering we’re facing another 6-12 months of a pandemic?
  • What do you think will have the biggest impact on elementary-age mental wellness, in terms of what has changed for these kids due to COVID-19?
  • I have a teen who is fully remote for school and really struggling. I’m seeing some indicators of anxiety and depression. I’m not sure where to start or what to do. Any advice?
  • Are there any hallmark “red flags” with child and teen mental health? And if they don’t want to talk about it—even to someone else—how do we approach it?
  • When there are clear signs that a teen is using drugs, how should parents or academic professionals address this? Do you have any suggestions for breaking the ice and getting the kids to be receptive to the conversation?
  • What can I do as a parent when my teenager refuses to take on any responsibilities around the house? It seems as if consequences aren’t enough to change their behavior.
  • When does stubbornness and lack of caring about consequences indicate that they should see a professional?
  • Any thoughts on taking on family volunteer opportunities to help engage teens who are resistant to connecting with family?
  • I work in a school and many students are exhausted and unmotivated. How can we best support kids like this?
  • My 10-year-old daughter has expressed fear and anxiety during bedtime about the fact that everyone will die someday. Any tips for a child who is struggling with the discomfort of understanding her own mortality?
  • If a child needs help, where do I start if I want to find a professional for them to speak with?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


You may find this additional information useful:

About Dr. Coyne

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School, and is a senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Coyne has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting. She is the author of “The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years,” a book for parents of young children.

Recent books by Dr. Coyne:

Learn more about Dr. Coyne.

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Originally aired on January 7, 2021