PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – While the holidays can be filled with joy, they can also be full of stress and anxiety, especially for young people.

Eddie Carrillo, a licensed mental health therapist and co-host of the Millennial Mental Health Channel podcast, explains that kids and teens may be stressed about finishing the semester or may have tough memories around the holidays and being home more often while on holiday break.

According to Carrillo, signs a kid or teen may be struggling with their mental health may include isolating themselves or avoidance.

“Checking on our kids and teens, we start to see that they isolate a little more or withdraw from things they usually like to do,” Carrillo explains.

According to Carrillo, mental health struggles may also impact kids’ school performance such as a quick drop in grades, or for older teens, may include substance use to self-medicate. Carillo also says parents can look out for changes in routine from sleep schedules to increases or decreases in appetite.

To check in with their kids, Carrillo advises parents to keep an open line of communication.

“Starting to try to build the foundation of regular communication with our kids and teens. It’s a process, it’s not something that just happens right away,” Carrillo said.

Carrillo also says it’s important for parents to be as supportive and direct as possible when taking the first steps in communicating with their teen. When talking to their kids about mental health, Carrillo advises parents to avoid using “you” statements such as “why are you depressed? You have everything you need.”

Instead, the therapist advises parents to use “I” statements including “I’ve noticed things seem a little more difficult,” or “I noticed you seem more down recently,” or “is there anything I can do to help out?”

“Find times that are more comfortable for your kid or teen to talk, whether that’s them doing an activity they like, or going on a walk, going out to eat together, watching TV together, just spending time together doing something they like makes the situation a little more comfortable and makes it easier to start to have those conversations,” Carrillo said.