Mental Health & Teens
Being a teenager is hard.
At school, we have to focus on being good students and finishing all of the work from all of our classes. We tend to focus on what other people think about us and we become something that we are not. We feel obligated to worry about what college sweatshirt we’ll be wearing by the end of this year.
At home, we have to focus on being good sons or daughters. We have to deal with problems within our families that our friends might not understand. We might have to worry about whether or not we’ll have a home tomorrow.
Whatever it is, we all struggle. We all have problems that we have to deal with and solutions that might not be as obvious to us as they are to other people. But if we want to live out our best and fullest life, we need to understand how to keep good mental health. But how can you have something when you don’t know what it is?
Good mental health is not just being free of mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety, but instead possessing positive characteristics that allow you to finish important tasks, maintain relationships, learn, and communicate and regulate all of your emotions, positive or negative. Bad mental health is the failure to do all these things and the tendency to be emotionally distressed in all areas.
And being a teenager, good mental health can sometimes be hard to hold.
Most teens shrug off any idea of having a serious problem with mental health because they don’t want to seem “crazy.” But more and more teens are being affected by mental health than you would think. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the largest mental health organization in America, released statistics on mental health facts for children and teenagers. In their study they found that 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 will live with a mental health condition and that 50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14. Most, if not all of us, are already past the age of 14. Have you even considered the state of your mental health? Because now is the time. If we can establish good mental health practices now, we will be more capable of handling life as we get older.
10 Simple Ways to Create Good Habits
- Take care of yourself emotionally. Don’t be too hard on yourself because everyone makes mistakes. Be respectful to yourself and remember that what you think about yourself will affect you more than what other people think. Set time aside from your daily routine to do something that you genuinely enjoy.
- Take care of yourself physically. Drink tons of water. According to the Mayo Clinic, men need an average of 13 cups a day while women need 9 cups a day. Eat healthy meals that fuel your body with the right kind of nutrients and energy. Sleep. Trust that your health is more important than that assignment. Don’t put anything into your body that will hurt it because you only get one.
- Establish a way that helps you deal with stress. Trying working out, reading about a topic you’re interested in, meditating, writing, drawing, or anything that puts your mind at ease. Realize that your problems are real, but know that you will overcome them.
- Surround yourself with people who inspire you and motivate you to become a better person. Build on those relationships because an important part of good mental health is having a good support system to fall back onto when you need it.
- Set up a schedule for yourself if you’re having trouble establishing good school habits. Keep a planner and check off assignments once you have completed them. Plan to go into your teacher to ask that question ahead of time so you don’t fall behind for homework. Commit to going to the library every day for an hour.
- Be open to change in your life and be willing to try new things. Who knows? What if you try something new and it becomes a passion. Or more simply, it can become an experience you can look back on and say you learned from.
- Learn how to accept things. Not everything will go your way. Just because you’re not together anymore does not mean the world is going to end. Life will go on and you will learn to love yourself without their help. Everything that has happened to you, good and bad, has made you the person you are now. Be confident that that person can overcome anything.
- Get off social media. Standards set by social media can be overwhelming. It can control how we think about ourselves and others. It can be a good thing to relieve yourself of that pressure and allow yourself to be whoever you want to be without the stress of social standards.
- Be a friend to your future self. Do things in advance if you know you might not be able to wake up early enough tomorrow morning to pick your outfit or pack your lunch. Especially when it comes to school, plan ahead so you have more time to enjoy at the end of the day.
- Recognize when something is wrong and don’t be afraid to speak up. Know the symptoms before hand. Don’t be afraid to go to someone you trust with a problem if you aren’t sure how to handle it. And most definitely get yourself the help you need in order to get better.
How to Spot a Problem
Keeping good mental health also means being able to realize when something is wrong. Dr. Amy Porter, a certified Psychologist that works out of Santa Clarita said, “I have an analogy that I use for my teenage patients. I tell them to think about their feelings as though they were all separate people, and you’re having a party and you feel like one of them is taking over the party.”
If you are having trouble handling a situation or you feel overwhelmed by a problem, ask yourself:
- Have I told anyone about this problem?
- Am I scared to tell other people?
- Why have I not told anyone?
- Is it the only thing I think about?
- Do I feel like one emotion is taking over entirely?
Answering yes to any of these questions could be a strong indicator of a mental health problem. “If there’s something you’re thinking about and it’s staying on your mind longer than it should and you’re reluctant to share it with someone close to you, then that is a good sign that you could be helped by a therapist,” said Dr. Porter.
Other signs, according to NAMI, also include extreme mood changes, changes in sleeping habits, substance abuse, problems concentrating, and the inability to perceive changes in one’s feelings or behaviour (Read more here).
But in the end, talking to a therapist does not automatically mean you have a mental illness. The stigma of receiving therapy is what keeps most people from going, despite the fact that they could be seriously helped. Going to therapy means that you are getting the help you need to get better. Therefore you are getting the help you need to live a better life where you can balance your emotional and psychological self. There’s nothing wrong with that.
How to Speak Up
Problems with mental health are very taboo. Not only in Santa Clarita specifically, but everywhere. Teens, and even parents, pretend that mental health problems are not a big deal and sometimes they pretend like mental health problems don’t exist at all.
Mental health problems are very real and very influential to how we live our lives. Don’t be afraid to bring your problems to a friend, a teacher or counselor, or your parents because of what they might think. They care about you and want to help you. However, if you do feel like you can’t go to any one of these people, contact a professional in order to receive the help that you deserve. You deserve to live your best life.