Parenting a Teen with Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues occur in 1 in 5 teens, ages 13-18 according to NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. As a parent of a teen with mental health issues, you might find some challenges along the way. You are not alone though and we have some helpful advice to get you through these trying times.

Pay Close Attention to Your Teen

Observe your teen’s behavior, emotions, and moods as to not delay getting treatment if a mental health issue does present itself. Be keenly aware that symptoms will not constantly present themselves. Additionally, your teen could also attempt to hide symptoms.

What Do You Do If You Do See Something

Schedule an appointment with a mental health professional as soon as possible or make a visit to your pediatrician or primary care doctor. Be prepared to provide your doctor with the following information:

  • Medical records and any past mental health evaluations.
  • What types of medications your teen takes if any.
  • Any other information that you think your doctor or mental health professional would find helpful.
  • Describe what you have been witnessing as symptoms and give a detailed account of when those symptoms have occurred and/or changed.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions or get a second opinion if you are not given a diagnosis or referral. Especially if your instincts are telling you otherwise. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

What to Do If Your Teen Does Get a Diagnosis

While you will be working with a mental health professional, it is still important for you to learn all that you can about your teen’s diagnosis. Your mental health professional should be able to provide with helpful information to learn from. You can also refer to the Resources section on our website.

Inform Your Teen’s School

Teens suffering from mental health issues may struggle in school. You want to ensure that your teen is getting the support and guidance that he needs. Remember that teens with mental health issues are protected by the law requiring that they get the accommodations that they need.

Help Your Teen

You need to adjust your expectations to respect your teen’s condition. Be sure to be respectful and sensitive to your teen’s feelings and keep your own feelings in check. You don’t want to worsen the way that your teen is feeling. While it is difficult to think about it, your teen is not going to be the same as they were before their illness. You need to emotionally prepare yourself for this.

Keep Your Family Together

You don’t have to let your teen’s diagnosis be all consuming while still be concerned for them. We suggest that you continue to take care of yourself and seek the additional support that you need so that you can properly be there to support your teen.

It is also important that you don’t neglect the rest of your family. Keeping your family happy and stable will help keep the stress down for everyone and in turn, will help your teen.

Lastly, call on your village. Don’t hesitate to ask your family whether it be a spouse or other children for help. We all have different strengths and perspectives which can help your teen.

We know that this is going to be a challenging time for your teen, you, and your entire family. We hope that this advice helps. If you have not already sought the help of mental health professional, Doorways offers various treatment options and are here for you and your teen.





The Importance of Resiliency

By Rich Killen, LAC, Licensed Associate Counselor

Confucius once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”.

What Confucius is talking about here is a concept used in psychology circles called, “resiliency”.

To put it simply, resiliency is an ability to recover from adversity. You can find this word used in several different areas ranging from a person’s resiliency as it relates to experiencing trauma or an athlete’s ability to be resilient during a game or a competition.  For the sake of this article, I will be referring to the latter. Super Bowl LI turned out to be a great demonstration of this particularly on the part of the New England Patriots and more specifically, Tom Brady. This game featured the underdog Atlanta Falcons and the favored New England Patriots. However, despite the predictions, we saw these Patriots losing by 25 points in the third quarter. To put this in context, no team has ever overcome more than a 10 point deficit in any Super Bowl. This Falcons team that was considered by many to have one of the best offenses in the league which consisted of the league MVP at quarterback. For a team that has been as proficient on offense as the Falcons were this year and considering the lead that they had, they should not have lost the Super Bowl.

Much of the current research on “resiliency” has suggested that it is a skill that can be improved upon when practiced. Some of this same research also suggests that “resilient” people are those that believe they can have some control over what is going on in their life as opposed to an individual that believes there is nothing they can do to change their situation. This is where Tom Brady and the Patriots excelled. They believed that they still had control over the game, or to put it another way, they believed that they could still win the game. The reality is that Tom Brady has had 49 game winning drives in his career including 5 in the Super Bowl. So even though no team has ever overcome a 10 point deficit in the Super Bowl this win was not without precedent. As long as there was still time on the clock the Patriots still believed they could win.

This is what great athletes do. They have an unshakable confidence in themselves knowing that despite the score and despite the circumstances, they have the potential to overcome. Another example of this is Tiger Woods (the Old version not the current version). Nineteen times he was won despite trailing going into the final round. Often times he would hit his tee shot in the rough leaving him with difficult approach shots. However, he had this same unshakable confidence that despite his circumstances that he would be able to overcome the undesirable situation that he put himself in. Building “resiliency” is a skill and it takes lots of practice, and often with anything that is being practiced, there is a lot of failure that is endured. However, when an athlete is able to utilize this skill it often leads to a performance of epic proportions.

Rich Killen LAC, Licensed Associate CounselorRich has  Masters degrees in Mental Health Counseling and Sport and Exercise Psychology from Argosy University-Phoenix. He has worked with families and at-risk youth and has also worked within a Partial Hospitalization Program for individuals struggling with addiction. In addition to this experience, he has also worked with athletes and other individuals interested in improving their performance and success in life, school, and their careers. Rich has a passion for people and helping them achieve their goals.

What a Healthy Teen Dating Relationship Looks Like

It may come as a surprise to some, but teen dating violence has become all too common during the teenage and young adult years. As stated by the Centers for Disease Control, in the time leading up to their survey, 1 in 10 teenagers had been hit or otherwise intentionally hurt at least once by their dating partner.  Even more shocking is that 1 in 10 teenagers had been kissed, touched or forced into sexual intercourse that they did not want to engage in by their partner.  With February being National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, we want to show teens what a healthy dating relationship looks like. For more information on how to protect your teen from teen dating violence, check out our post Teen Dating Violence: How to Protect and Support Your Teenager Through Awareness.

One of the key elements of a healthy relationship is communication. Talking through things can help teens in a relationship be on the same page. Here some tips to share with your teen for having a healthy relationship, from Love is Respect:

  • Support Each Other. Encourage each other and don’t be afraid to ask your partner when you need support. A key component of a healthy relationship is building each other up as opposed to putting each other down.
  • Say What’s on Your Mind. Remember that your partner is not a mind reader. If something is on your mind, bring it up to your partner and have a conversation about what is going on.
  • Come to a Compromise. There are going to be conflicts in any relationship. It’s okay not to agree on everything. When in conflict, you need to find a way to come to a compromise that is fair for each other.
  • Have Respect. Each partner’s feelings have value. It is important to consider not just your own feelings, but also your partner’s feelings. Having mutual respect is a component to any healthy relationship.
  • Have Respect for Privacy. Having one’s own space is crucial to a healthy relationship. It’s okay to not do everything together and to tell each other every little thing.
  • Have Clear Boundaries. By doing this, you can determine what makes each other comfortable or not and help guide the direction of the relationship. It is important to note, that by having clear boundaries, one partner should not feel restricted. Each person should be able to still do the things they enjoy, spend time with friends, or have their needs respected.

To further understand what a healthy relationship looks like, it is important to point out what a healthy relationship doesn’t look like:

  • One partner should not be controlling over the other partner.
  • A partner should not be jealous, humiliate, be possessive, yell, insult, or be verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive to the other.

We hope that these tips will help you show your teen how to create or further build a healthy relationship. However, if you are concerned that your teen is in an unhealthy relationship, help them end the relationship.  Additionally, we have teen counselors that specialize in helping teens that suffer from dating violence that can help.

Apps to Protect Your Teen Driver

It’s a rite of passage for many teens- getting their driver’s license. As a parent, you might not share the same enthusiasm as your teen. This is understandable. Per, one in every five 16-year-olds are involved in an accident in their first year of driving. There is some good news! Did you know that there are now several smartphone apps available to help you monitor your teen’s driving? This is a great way to help put your mind at ease and ensure that your teen driver is practicing safe driving practices.

AT&T Drive Mode for Android Devices

AT&T DriveMode is a free, safe driving app that helps prevent distractions while driving. This app activates when speed reaches 15 MPH and deactivates when speed drops below 15 MPH for 2-3 minutes. It also silences all incoming alerts and will notify parents if the app has been deactivated.

TrueMotion Family for IOS and Android

This is a free app that tracks driver’s behaviors. TrueMotion has the ability to track whether any phone calls or texts were placed while driving, as well as speeding and aggressive driving. Then based on the driver’s actions, a score is given. Based on that score, drivers can determine if they are distracted driving and then correct those behaviors on their next car trip.

DriveScribe for IOS and Android

This app will automatically start when the car is going over 5 mph or Bluetooth connects. This app blocks phone calls, emails, and texts while driving and provides an auto text when it is running. DriveScribe also tracks driving behavior. You can accumulate points for smart driving and once a certain amount of points accumulate, they can be redeemed for gift cards.

RoadReady for IOS and Android

This app is for teens learning to drive. It helps keep track of practice hours accumulated by keeping a driving log. This app allows for parent pointers and shows which areas can be improved.

Safe Driver for IOS and Android

SafeDriver runs in the background and rewards you for not using your phone while driving. For example, not texting while driving will earn you points that can be redeemed in the Safe-Drive Marketplace.

TextLimit for IOS and Android

This app is completely customizable so that you can determine which phone features can be disabled and at what speed. The goal of this app is to completely stop distracted driving.

CellControl for IOS and Android

Cell Control is also a customizable app that lets you control what phone features are disabled when the vehicle is moving. The app prevents access to social media, the camera, texting, etc. so that you know that your teen is not getting distracted while driving.

These are just a handful of the many apps that are available so that you can help your teen create safe driving practices and eliminate distracted driving, as well as help put your mind at ease while your teen is behind the wheel.

A New Year and a New Focus on Life Habits

Did your teen make a resolution for the new year and is already struggling to stick with or achieve their goal? Why not take a different approach that encourages your teen to develop some lifelong habits?

By developing lifelong habits, your teen will naturally achieve smaller goals that they may have for themselves. By focusing on the long term, rather than the short term, your teen will learn skills that they can use for whatever it is they do in life.

What are some effective habits that your teen should be focusing on? The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey as explained by provides skills for teens to use on a daily basis. These are the seven habits and how to utilize them:

Be Proactive

Teens need to begin by establishing priorities. Once this is done, they need to be the ones that are responsible for the tasks at hand. By doing this, they learn to take responsibility for actions and not place blame on others.

Begin with the End in Mind

When setting goals, help your teen have a vision for the end result. In particular, what is their goal in life and what vision do they have for their future. Then help them create a plan and direction to get to that end goal.

Put First Things First

Learning how to prioritize is an important life skill. Teens can then focus on what is most important in life. Learning this time management skill will help propel them through tough times. Learning and understanding time management will help propel your teen through college and their professional years.

Think Win-Win

Sometimes we can be self-centered, so it is important for teens to look at relationships in a way that benefits both sides. By having a mindset of win-win, your teen will learn how to look at things from multiple perspectives and determine a solution that works for both sides.

Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

A skill that is becoming lost, is active listening. We are so busy trying to get our thoughts out, that we sometimes don’t fully understand the full picture. By encouraging your teen to first listen to others, they will be better able to communicate with others.


There is an old saying, “there is more than one way to skin a cat.” This is so true because we all have an idea on what is the best way or the right way to do something. Encourage your teen when working with others that both ideas might be valid and can actually lead to a better idea.

Sharpen the Saw

Teens can be so busy and pulled in so many directions. Remind them that it is important to take a breather and renew. This could be done in many ways but should be ways that strengthen our hearts, brains, souls, and minds.

These habits will not only help through the teen years but will provide a solid foundation for their entire lives. However, if you are struggling with helping your teen, a professional teen counselor can help your teen to build skills to be successful now and in the future.






Apps for Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

According to Health Line, the United States alone has an estimated 6.4 million children that range in age from 4-17 that suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The symptoms of ADHD include trouble with organization, difficulty concentrating and staying focused, as well as issues remembering details. You could say that as a student-particularly in high school-with ADHD having these difficulties stands in the way of academic success. One of the most important things that you can do as a parent to aid in your child’s success is to help them get organized.

Doorways Arizona Blog: Apps for Students with ADHD

With help from the team at Health Central, we have outlined some invaluable apps that can help get and keep your adolescent student on track.

While the features may differ slightly amongst each app, the purpose of these apps is to keep your student on track daily by managing classes. These apps allow you to put in all pertinent information about your classes like teacher, assignments, test dates, project deadlines and grades and also set reminders.

Dropbox might be an online tool that you are familiar with. This tool allows you to store files and then access them from any of your devices. This can be helpful for your student because files saved to Dropbox can be accessed from a home computer and as well as say your student’s phone.

It is likely that your student has lots of ideas for an upcoming project, but just isn’t sure how to organize. What is great about this app is that it allows you to jot down your ideas and then it outlines them in a logical order.

This app allows you to keep all information in one spot, like images, web links, and notes. The best part is that later you can search and find the information that you need.

  • 30/30 for Apple Devices

30/30 is an app designed to help you manage time. This is great for students because it allows to you to allocate a certain amount of time to each desired task i.e. 30 minutes of English homework and it sets a timer and counts down the 30 minutes.

This is another document storage base. What’s really helpful about GoogleDrive is that it allows you to scan or type in additional important information.

This app is the modern-day family calendar. It allows you to add appointments, family functions, sporting events, etc. to your entire family’s calendar and hopefully avoid being told by your teen that they didn’t know they had a dentist appointment because you hadn’t told them.

These apps are merely organizational tools to help you and your teen achieve greater academic success. If you have additional concerns about your teen, please consult a health professional that specializes in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

4 Ways You Can Instill a Healthy Body Image in Your Teen Athlete

By the time your son or daughter reaches the teenage years, they will inevitably be involved and immersed in many interests as they explore their developing skills, talents, and passions. One of the most common pass times that teens typically enjoy at various degrees during adolescence and beyond is athletics.

Participating in athletics is a fantastic way for your teen to stay healthy and fit, while learning the value of teamwork, respect, and hard work. Playing sports can also build self-esteem and help your teen form healthy bonds of friendship as they learn how to handle success and defeat.

However, as you teen begins to develop athletic skills and pursuits, they will also become more aware of their bodies and how they compare to their peers and any athletic icons they look up to as role models and motivation.

Unfortunately, this heightened body scrutiny and comparison can give way to unhealthy body image issues and evolve into eating disorders very quickly if your teen is not equipped with a strong sense of what it means to be healthy, strong, and athletic. In fact, according to the National Mental Health Institute, 2.7 percent of teens age thirteen to eighteen have struggled with some type of eating disorder.

4 Ways You Can Instill a Healthy Body Image in Your Teen Athlete

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, here are four ways that you can help support a healthy body image in your teen athlete to protect them from developing dangerous, unhealthy eating or training habits:

Understand eating disorders and other body image issues your teen may face.

It is important to understand that eating disorders do not stem solely from eating or not eating in unhealthy manners. Eating disorders are a symptom of a much deeper mental, emotional, or psychological issue that may be plaguing the happiness and well-being of your teen. Make sure that you do the research on what different body image issues and eating disorders exist, and fully understand how they may impact your teen as they strive to excel in athletics.

Know how to identify if your teen is struggling with their body image or suffering from an eating disorder.

To keep your teen healthy and safe, know the warning signs and symptoms to look for that may provide you early warning into a potential problem. Most teenagers will not come forward openly with their body image or eating disorder problems, so you will need to begin the open, honest, supportive conversation if you witness the warnings. According to the Mayo Clinic, warnings of an eating disorder may include:

  • Abnormally low body weight
  • Fear of weight gain
  • Distorted body image
  • Expressions of self-hatred or loathing
  • Excessively limiting calories or food intake
  • Escaping to the rest room immediately after a meal
  • Refusing to eat
  • Vomiting after meals
  • Use of weight loss pills or laxatives

Talk to your teen about their athletic role models, and help them identify healthy bodies and training regimes.

As the Summer Olympics quickly approaches, your teens will be watching with added excitement and attention as the very best competitors in their favorite sports compete for medals. This is a great opportunity to point out healthy, strong bodies and talk to your teen about the best ways to accomplish their fitness goals in a safe manner.

Additionally, there are many athletes who have overcome eating disorders. Sharing these stories of triumph and success can help encourage your teen to open up and seek help if they have been experiencing issues with their body or are developing an unhealthy relationship with eating.

Intervene with support, positivity, and straightforward help when you suspect body image issues or eating disorders in your teen.

If your teen exhibits the warning signals of poor body image or a potential struggle with an eating disorder, you should intervene immediately. When you bring up this topic with your teen, do not speak in judgmental or negative terms. Be open, positive, and straightforward as you encourage your teen to speak openly while you listen. If your teen continues to display unhealthy behaviors after you’ve intervened, it can be immensely helpful to consult the advice of a professional teen counselor to help you reach your teen with tools for an active and healthy approach to athletics and life.