There is surely a lot going on in Mzansi. Eskom, fuel, food prices… If your adult emotions are feeling down in the dumps, just imagine what the mental health impact must be on our adolescents? A mother in crisis from Kraaifontein, Cape Town asks how she can deal with her moody teen in the holidays.
Cape Town social worker Tamsyn Alfino joins this episode of Sisters Without Shame with some advice. Noticing a change of behaviour is child specific. Parents know their children better than anyone, says Alfino.
“We believe that the teenage years start around 13, but actually, the process kicks in a lot sooner. There are a lot of things happening underneath the surface with both boys and girls. The process of puberty starts around eight or nine and by the time they hit 13, that volcano erupts in terms of a lot of behavioural changes that come about. It is child-specific, if you notice that there is a major shift or drastic change then that is a warning sign.”
Alfino is a counsellor in Bergvliet, Cape Town who offers a supportive space for reflection, growth, and healing to children, adolescents, and adults experiencing mild to moderate mental health symptoms that impact their day-to-day lives.
Parents, don’t be scared
Mental health awareness efforts are making great strides in reducing the stigma of mental illness in our communities. Yet many still remain uncomfortable discussing mental health and apprehensive about their children seeking therapy.
Always opt for therapy before the problems get worse, Alfino advises. “I always advocate for there not having to be a severe need for you access some sort of mental health support and service for a child. I think in terms of deciding when a child needs to see a mental health professional, it would really be about how severe their experience is and how severe the concerns are for the child.”
In this episode, Alfino also unpacks:
- The stigma of accessing mental health services.
- How to talk about mental health with your children.
- What signs to look out for when you suspect that your child may need therapy.
Listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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