Mental health struggles can develop at any age. When they strike during adolescence, they open the doors for deeply troubling behaviors, which can lead to a lifetime of consequences and other issues if they’re left unchecked. While many teens encounter a transitional and temporary form of what psychologists call developmental depression, others experience atypical depression, a more severe and chronic form of the illness. Either form can have troubling effects.

When mental health becomes a matter of the law

Some teens who suffer from depression turn to unhealthy, dangerous and potentially illegal behaviors to cope. Criminal activities during this developmental stage of life can have a traumatic effect on both the teen and their families over the long term.

Some of the potentially harmful and/or illegal behaviors a troubled teen may engage in include:

  • Theft and burglary
  • Substance abuse
  • Violence or assault
  • Running away
  • Stalking

While it may seem like their future has been altered beyond repair after receiving criminal charges, it’s important to remember that there is hope. Sometimes, it’s not until extreme behaviors leading to run-ins with the law are underway that parents even understand the scope of their teen’s suffering, but it’s never too late to help your struggling teenager discover healthy coping mechanisms, or to seek a strong support system.

Teenagers experiencing emotional and psychological disturbances can seem more closed off and difficult to communicate with than average. The urgency to find a way to reach them can be overwhelming, as can the desperation to help preserve their futures.

Finding your teen the help and support they need

There are a number of resources to help get your teen started on a path toward a better future. Securing an attorney who works with teenage offenders is a critical part of the process, because working through options for resolving any charges is the first step toward repairing damages and paving the way for a better future.

Consulting a licensed therapist who specializes in teen issues is another important component, since the underlying mental health struggles must be understood and managed before any progress toward recovery can begin. Some teens benefit from medication, or a combination of medication and therapy. Others require inpatient or partial hospitalization programs to rehabilitate their sense of well-being and get help managing their feelings and behaviors.

No matter how severe the issues may be, your support and guidance will make a positive impact on your teen, even if the effect isn’t immediate.