Your teen’s health

Helping you support your teen through life’s changes.

Helping you understand and support your teen’s health

Being a teen can be challenging. From body changes to mental health worries, even preparing for university. We’re here to help you support them with useful information and advice on teen health.

Are you a Bupa member? You can also call our Anytime HealthLine on 0345 601 3216 for nurse advice or our Family Mental HealthLine on 0345 2667 938†† if you’re worried about their wellbeing.

Cover all your kids for the price of one

With our Family + offer, you can cover all your children for the price of one.

When you add more than one child under 20 years old to your policy, you'll only pay for the eldest, no matter how many children you add.

What's more, a family policy costs 10% less for joint cover compared to the price of separate policies for each family member.††

Get a quote

How to approach common teen health concerns

It can be greatly upsetting and distressing to know your child may be showing signs of mental ill-health. Even when your child is slightly ‘out of sorts’, it can be hard to know whether to be worried, how to approach the situation, or where to turn for support.

You know your child better than anyone else – so you’ll know if something’s up. You can often spot the early signs of low mood or depression through a ‘flatness’ in your child’s voice. Although teenagers can be known for grunting and moodiness, there are other underlying or subtle indications that parents pick up when things aren’t quite right. You might have noticed that they:

  • have become very withdrawn
  • are persistently sad or more tearful
  • get more irritated or angry than usual
  • can't sleep, or sleep a lot more than usual
  • are exhausted all the time
  • have no appetite
  • have a permanent sense of hopelessness

It’s worth considering what’s going on at school or college. Changes in their attendance, interest, concentration or performance can sometimes indicate a problem, or they might have become disruptive and uncooperative. Some children may simply start refusing to go to school altogether. Outside of school, are they losing interest in hobbies, clubs or seeing friends? Have they withdrawn completely into an online world?

Early intervention is key. If you suspect that your child might be depressed – whether it’s your inner voice or obvious changes in behaviour, personality, mood or attitude – talk to your child. Ask them what’s troubling them and tell them that you’re worried. Explain that you’re there for them and listen without judging.

Learn more about teenage mental health

Learn more about children’s mental health

It’s not always going to be obvious if your child has an eating disorder. It’s common to believe it’s something you can ‘see’. But eating disorders are mental illnesses and can sometimes go under the radar for a long time.

Eating disorders vary from person to person. Though there are some signs and traits associated with specific eating disorders, a person does not have to show all of them to be ill. Changes to your child’s behaviour and mood will probably be noticeable well before changes to their appearance.

General signs of eating disorders

If your child has an eating disorder, they might show some of these general signs:

  • being preoccupied with food and/or secretive behaviour around food
  • self-consciousness when eating in front of others
  • low self-esteem
  • irritability and mood swings
  • tiredness
  • social withdrawal
  • feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety

Some eating disorders have other more specific signs.
Possible signs of bulimia include:

  • changes in weight
  • disappearing after meals
  • a feeling of being out of control around food
  • sore skin on the backs of hands or fingers
  • bad breath or tooth decay

Possible signs of anorexia include:

  • weight loss, possibly hidden with baggy clothes
  • distorted perception of weight
  • being preoccupied with weight
  • obsessive behaviour, such as counting calories
  • difficulty focusing

Possible signs of binge eating disorder include:

  • weight gain
  • spending lots of money on food
  • feeling out of control around food
  • eating quicker than usual
  • eating when not hungry

Some eating disorders don’t fit the criteria to be diagnosed as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. Instead, it might be diagnosed as ‘other specified feeding or eating disorder’. This diagnosis isn’t any less serious. If your child has any eating disorder, it’s important to get them into treatment as quickly as possible to give them the best chance of a full and sustained recovery.

Worried about your child’s health? Call our Anytime HealthLine for 24/7 health advice
Health insurance isn’t just there for the big things, because it can often be those stomach cramps and headaches that can cause you to worry. That’s where our Anytime HealthLine comes in, with access to around the clock health advice from a trained nurse whenever you need it most.

Acne affects most people at some point in their lives. Usually people experience it as a teenager or young adult, with around 8 in 10 people getting it at some point between ages 11 and 30. During puberty, production of the hormone testosterone leads to greasy skin, which results in the blockage of follicles.

Acne is caused by hair follicles (the cells around the root of a hair) and sebaceous glands (small glands on the skin) getting blocked and inflamed, causing lesions to form. These tend be spots (whiteheads and blackheads), but in more severe cases may form larger inflamed areas on your child’s skin.

In the long term, acne can lead to scarring and darkened patches of skin. Your child may experience depression and anxiety due to the social impact of the appearance of the condition.

Call our Anytime HealthLine for 24/7 health advice about acne

Health insurance isn’t just there for the big things, and it’s often those rashes and spots that can cause your child to worry. That’s where our Anytime HealthLine comes in, with access to around the clock health advice from a trained nurse whenever you need it most.

Is acne covered on a Bupa policy?

Unfortunately we’re unable to provide cover for acne due to the following exclusions on our policy:

  • Screening, monitoring and preventative treatment – usually with acne you’d have to see a consultant to see how you’re responding to treatment.
  • Treatment to relieve symptoms associated with any bodily change arising from any physiological or natural cause such as ageing, menopause and puberty – acne would fall under this category.
  • Drugs and dressings needed for out-patient or take-home use – a consultant might prescribe drugs to treat acne.

You’ll find more about acne in our health information.

Learn more about acne

Supporting your teen through their university journey

Studying at university brings several changes to your teen’s life. From moving away, to starting new friendships, these new challenges can take their toll on your child’s mental health. It’s also a new experience for those they’re closest to, so can affect the rest of your family’s mental health too.

Our new research taken from an internal analysis of Google search data - found an increase in students searching mental health concerns, and seeking support from their university over a period from December 2022 to November 2023:

More teens are turning to online support for their wellbeing worries

Fatama Kamara, Specialist Mental Health Adviser at Bupa UK, shares:

“Starting university is a challenging time, and our research shows that many students struggle adjusting and turn to Google for support.

“Opening up and realising you need this is often the hardest part, so it's positive to see more students are searching for ways to get help.

“However, we must keep raising awareness of the wellbeing support available for young people to break stigmas and make it as easy as possible for them to access it.”

Signs your teen is struggling with their mental health at university

Students are at higher risk of developing mental health problems, so it’s important to know how to support your child before, during and after university.

Your child may become withdrawn, find it difficult to focus on conversations, and they may have a lack of interest in activities they’d previously enjoyed.

Here Fatmata Kamara shares five simple ways to help your child through their new challenge.

You can start preparing your teen by teaching them valuable skills. From advice on how to budget, to showing them how to cook, these skills can make a difference to your child settling in.

As well as the practical side, you could offer advice on coping techniques for stressful situations (for example mindfulness or other relaxation techniques) and the importance of keeping a regular routine, full of healthy food and regular exercise.

Moving away from home can be tough at any age, and it’s understandable that they’ll miss things when away. A new situation means adjustments, but not everyone finds it easy to adapt. So, reassure them that home will always be there, whenever they need to come back, and that you’ll see them soon.

Starting university challenges your child’s independency. Check in regularly and see if they’re enjoying the experience, or if they’re struggling with some aspects of their new life.

Regardless of how long or short the phone calls, texts or emails are, they’ll likely feel at ease knowing you’re here for them. It will also give you comfort to hear how they’re settling in.

A particularly stressful time for students is exam season, so reassure them and let them know that you are proud of them, whatever the outcome.

Life at university is full of new and exciting things to learn and experience. Take an interest by asking your child about what they’re doing and enjoying. Learn about their new friendships and anything interesting about their course. Try and encourage them to take part in social activities as it’s a great opportunity for them to meet new people.

Every university has support for students’ health and wellbeing. Before they venture off, find out what support is available, and who your child should speak to if they have a problem. This can help ease any worries and uncertainties for both of you, as you’ll know what services are available too. These are often found on the university’s website or you could call them to find out more.

You may also find it helpful to research their new area together to understand what local services are available. We also provide family mental health support – from free online resources to support with family health insurance.

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Get a health insurance quote with us now

Our family health insurance allows you to easily shape aspects of your policy to help suit the needs of you and your loved ones.

Calls may be recorded and to maintain the quality of our service we may monitor some of our calls, always respecting the confidentiality of the call.

‡‡ Telephone support between 8am 6pm Monday to Friday via a dedicated helpline. Calls may be recorded and to maintain the quality of our service we may monitor some of our calls, always respecting the confidentiality of the call.

Add more than one child under 20 years old to your policy and you ll only pay for the eldest child, no matter how many more children you add. Children aged 20 or over cannot receive free cover or count as an eldest child for this offer. Cover must include at least two children aged 19 or under. You ll still receive our 10% family discount if you have free child cover. Children do not have to live at the same address as the main member. This offer may change or be unavailable when you renew.

†† Families pay 10% less for a joint policy compared to the price of separate policies for each family member. Cover must include at least one adult and one or more children. Children do not have to live at the same address as the main member. This offer applies to our Bupa By You Comprehensive and Treatment and Care health insurance policies. This offer may change or be unavailable when you renew.
These offers apply to our Comprehensive and Treatment and Care policies. We may remove or change these offers when you renew. See full Terms and Conditions (PDF, 0.04MB).

^ We may record or monitor our calls. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 12.30pm.

Terms and conditions

Anytime HealthLine is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Bupa health insurance is provided by Bupa Insurance Limited. Registered in England and Wales No. 3956433. Bupa Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Arranged and administered by Bupa Insurance Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales No. 3829851. Registered office: 1 Angel Court, London, EC2R 7HJ.

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