June 2, 2020 at 4:05 PM EDT – Updated June 3 at 6:27 AM
ATLANTA (CNN) – It’s been a year like no other for teens, from drive-by diplomas to virtual proms in the middle of a pandemic.
And for some, it’s been hard on their mental health.
“We’re seeing an increase in depression, especially for teenagers,” said Sarah Lazarus with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Emergency room visits are up with cases of intentional self-harm.
Lazarus said parents of teens need to be on the lookout for warning signs of depression.
“I know no one wants to seek medical care right now because they’re nervous and they don’t want to get sick, but our mental health is really important, too,” she said. “It’s really important that if you’re noticing warning signs that your kids go ahead and seek help.”
Those warning signs can include a withdrawal from normal life and changes in appetite.
Lazarus suggests checking in with your kids regularly and maintaining an open dialogue about their feelings and experiences.
If you’re concerned about your child’s emotional wellness, seek professional help.
Experts say parents should ask their teens how they are feeling and then actively listen.
Make sure to acknowledge their feelings and let them know it’s OK to feel them.
Lazarus suggests alternative forms of communication, if your teen doesn’t feel like talking. Journaling or other creative outlets can be good avenues for expression.
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