The Regional Municipality of Durham

News Release

Health Department offers tips for parents to support teen mental health

WHITBY, ON October 05, 2017 - In recognition of World Mental Health Day, Oct. 10, Durham Region Health Department is highlighting the impact that parents and other trusted adults can make when supporting the mental health of the teenagers in their life.

“Mental health is about how we think, feel and act, and it’s normal to have highs and lows in our mental health,” explained Matthew Way, a public health nurse with Durham Region Health Department. “When your teen has low periods it doesn’t mean they have a mental illness. It’s normal for teens to have feelings like anger, sadness or anxiety when facing challenges or striving for new goals. It’s important to give your teen extra support when they are experiencing big changes, such as transitioning to high schools or changing schools. As a parent or as someone who is important in the life of a teen, your opinion and guidance can be a strong influence.” 

Signs that your teen may be having difficulty coping include declining grades, skipping school, frequent problems at school with staff or peers, sudden changes in mood, eating patterns and friends, social isolation and sleep problems. “If you are concerned about your teen’s behaviour or mental health, talk to them and try to find a solution together. Early and ongoing support is very important to teen mental health,” noted Mr. Way.

According to the 2015 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, 27 per cent of Durham Region students reported wanting to talk about a mental health or an emotional problem in the past year, but did not know where to turn. “Your teen may not always choose to talk with you; however, you can help them decide who they would be comfortable talking to,” Mr. Way said. Some tips for supporting teen mental health at home include:

“School administration, guidance counsellors, teachers, health care providers and social workers are all available to assist your teen by supporting and connecting them with resources,” explained Mr. Way. “You can also consider training opportunities in your community to learn more about mental health or suicide prevention.” In addition, the Be Safe app is a free local app gives that gives teens strategies to use when they are having difficulty coping. This app can also connect teens with local resources and supports. To learn more about the Be Safe app, visit    

If your teen talks to you about thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately. In an emergency, call 911 or visit your nearest hospital emergency department. Local community crisis support lines are also available as follows:

For more information and tips on supporting both your teen’s mental health, as well as your own, visit or call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6214 or 1-800-841-2729. You can also connect with Durham Healthy Families on Facebook and @DurhamFamilies on Twitter.

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Media inquiries:

The Regional Municipality of Durham:
Glendene Collins - Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999, or

If this information is required in an accessible format, please call 1-800-841-2729 ext. 3094.

For more information, please contact Health Department.