Mental health refers to emotional, cognitive, and behavioral well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” As young people learn to navigate and interact with the world around them, they are simultaneously grappling with intense pressures, surging hormones, and are faced with countless lessons thrust upon them during adolescence. Although developmentally age-appropriate, due to their brain maturation, teenagers inherently operate from an emotional standpoint. The prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain that reigns rational thought, executive planning, and impulse control) is the last area of the brain to fully develop. Meaning teenagers innately process, problem solve, and make decisions using their amygdala (the area of the brain that is most closely associated with impulsivity, aggression, emotion, and instinctive behavior). This causes young people to exhibit highly charged and fluctuating moods, increasing their emotional vulnerability, which can directly influence a teen’s mental health.
What To Do
Fortunately, there are many ways you can help your teen cultivate a robust armory of coping strategies to enable them to effectively navigate the inevitable challenges that present throughout adolescence. As simple as it may seem, the foundation for healthy coping strategies begins with small, actionable shifts. Consider the following tips, provided by the University of Michigan:
- Model being kind to yourself: avoid self-criticism, treat yourself with respect, and let your teenager see that you are making time for yourself to engage in activities that bring you joy.
- Set boundaries: young people crave clarity and structure. Setting clear and firm boundaries can help your teenager understand what is expected of him or her, and that consequences will ensue when boundaries are not honored.
- Encourage your teen to take care of his or her body: engaging in healthful habits and physically taking care of one’s body can improve mental health. To help get them started, promote:
- Eating nutritiously
- Staying away from smoking, alcohol, and other drugs
- Remaining properly hydrated
- Obtaining ample sleep
- Exercising regularly
- Social health is important: teenagers with strong social connections, who feel connected at school and at home, are 66% less likely to experience negative health outcomes related to sexual health, substance use, violence, and mental health issues in adulthood.
- Get silly and help your teenager laugh at the funny things: research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body, and reduce stress.
- Explore different de-stressing techniques with your child: try out different stress reducing tactics and relaxation exercises to quiet your mind, like yoga or meditation. Research has found that meditation can help lower blood pressure, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve insomnia, and more.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
OUR KNOWLEDGEABLE ADMISSIONS TEAM CAN BE REACHED 24/7 AT INFO@PACIFICRTC.COM OR CALL: (866) 602-5512