Teenagers, mainly categorized as adolescents, need more than usual guidance to balance their lives. With increased academic load, changing hormones, and carrying society’s expectations, things can get out of hand in no time. The “rebellious” teen phase is one of the biggest proofs of declining mental health among teenagers due to various stigmas and stereotypes attached to mental health and adolescent behavior patterns.
Common Misconceptions About Teenage Mental Health:
There are too many misconceptions and biases regarding mental health in teenagers. While they deserve to live a healthier life for their physical and mental health, society, unfortunately, isn’t so kind to them. Here are some of the common misconceptions about teenage mental health in the community:
- Young people don’t go through mental illnesses.
- Mental illnesses only occur to the vulnerable and weak.
- Mental illnesses are the consequences of their own actions.
- Mental illnesses among teens are caused by alcohol/drug abuse.
- Mental illnesses among teens are a myth and just a way for them to gain public attention or sympathy.
Ways to Promote Mental Health in Teens:
As a society, we can promote mental health among teens to protect and support them. There are several ways in which we can do that without putting in too much effort. Some of those ways are:
Sometimes, all teenagers want is someone to simply sit with them and listen to everything they have to say with patience and no judgment. Too many conflicts occur when things are kept inside emotionally, and no space is given to express what a person feels. In most cases, all teenagers want is someone to listen to their problems and guide them without any judgemental or condescending words.
- Communicate with them like mature adults:
Teenagers are close to being adults, and unless they are appropriately guided in their pre-adult years, they will never mature or learn to maintain their mental health. Maintaining strong communication with teenagers will allow them to process their emotions in a healthy manner, contributing to the well-being of their mental health. In addition, communication is key to resolving almost every conflict in the world.
- Never shy away from validating or being affectionate to them:
Most parents think showing “tough love” is the cure to fixing undesirable social behavior in teenagers. This is not true. It is unbelievable how immense the effect of validation is on teens. This is the exact reason why teenagers tend to seek validation from strangers online since this is precisely what their soul needs.
Adults need to be mindful of the words they use for them and be more affectionate. Affection and validation go a long way in building strong self-esteem in teenagers.
- Check up on their symptoms:
Make sure to check up on teenagers around you regularly to see any symptoms of mental illnesses. If they appear distant, isolated, or hyper, talk to them. Find out what’s bothering them, and avoid it from getting worse. It is also essential to keep in check the environmental conditions which may cause those symptoms to occur. Depressed people don’t always “look” depressed.
Sometimes, the biggest of smiles hide the worst of mental health conditions. People hide the worst of their issues behind their “smiling” faces. The society also doesn’t encourage sharing one’s experiences openly, hence making people go through the pain of suffering alone. This can end up being very toxic for everyone, especially teenagers.
- Provide teenagers access to good mental health professionals:
Therapy and mental health is still considered a stigma in our society, even in the 21st century. This is quite alarming and has cost many people their lives. Providing teenagers with access to good therapists can help decrease a massive chunk of their mental illness and fix their pattern of life.
Also, one doesn’t necessarily need to be mentally ill in order to seek therapy. However, it is essential to keep getting regular mental health check-ups and build a better routine of life with the guidance of a specialist.
- Improve their sleeping and eating patterns:
One of the biggest reasons for decreased mental health is irregular sleeping and eating patterns. Sleeping early and eating healthy does more than just fixing your schedule or keeping your body healthy. Unhealthy life patterns affect mental health directly and can cause a decline in other areas of life as well.
It also severely affects productivity and causes overall distress in life. The things we eat and the amount of rest we get are responsible for our overall progress in life, if not entirely, then to a considerable level. Munching snacks late at night while watching Netflix may not be a good idea in the long term. So, make sure you are early to bed and avoid junk to better mental health.
- Resolve conflict in a healthy manner together:
Teenagers are thought to be hyperactive, rebellious, and impulsive. However, the truth is on the contrary. Irrespective of age, people behave in a dysfunctional manner if they are not treated in a healthy manner. Therefore, UNICEF advises that if you are an adult in conflict with a teenager, find a mature way to handle it.
Do not stick to stereotypes when it comes to dealing with teenagers. A compassionate approach does more good than you realize. Give them a break and humanize your methods of dealing with conflicts.
To conclude, promoting mental health will never not be a “trend.” As time changes, people’s behaviors and lives change, and with that, it’s crucial to change and adapt to new and healthy strategies to normalize and promote mental health issues. Teenagers are society’s most misunderstood generation, and the rate of mental illnesses is high among them. By following the steps mentioned above, we can hopefully decrease and maybe eliminate the rising statistics of teenage mental health issues in society.