During mental health awareness month, we call out the importance of minding one’s mental health. It is also important that we focus on adolescent mental health.
An adolescent is someone who is 10 to 19 years old, so think teens and preteens. I’m sure we all remember that time in our life where we were young, vulnerable, and insecure victims of puberty. Mentally, it is a tough stage to go through, so you can imagine the ways mental health struggles in this time in our lives.
Adolescence is a time where violence, abuse, and poverty take their toll on mental health, so it is important to try to protect the adolescent in your life so that the things they go through now do not negatively impact their mental health in adulthood. Here are four things you can do to protect your adolescent’s mental health.
The problems they may be going through seem silly to adults, but for adolescents, their problems are serious and life changing. They will make mountains out of molehills and that’s okay. Be there to comfort them, talk them through their problems, and offer valuable solutions. By doing this you are showing them how to effectively work through their problems which is important for their current and future mental health.
Reduce the risk factors
Risk factors are parts of their environment that could negatively impact their mental health. Some risk factors include peer pressure, helicopter parenting, violence, discrimination, and abuse. While peer pressure and discrimination are not easy to control, how you treat an adolescent is. Bodily autonomy and self-expression are important when developing a self-identity. Also, it is important to have a home where they can feel safe and secure.
Technology is readily available for people of all ages, and social media is full of false expectations and unrealistic bodies. This can absolutely affect the way your adolescent views themselves, damaging their mental health. Let your young mind know early on that what they see on tv and online are not realistic expectations and is not the beauty standard.
Even with every effort made to protect your adolescent’s mental health, it may not always work 100%. They may still feel peer pressure, they may still want to look like the celebrities on Instagram, and they may face violence outside the home. All you can do is pay attention to how this affects them and react.
You may do everything right, but even the best parents cannot protect their child from mental illness. Depression, psychosis, and behavioral disorders are not something a parent can control. If you notice symptoms pointing to a mental health condition that requires professional attention, take that step. These are not things that will go away. Helping your adolescent monitor their mental health can still introduce good mental health practices in their life.
The adolescent years can be difficult to navigate for everyone involved. What happens in our youth can really impact our future mental health, so it is important to take care of young minds when we have the opportunity. Take the time this month, if not every month, to talk with the adolescent in your life and help foster a positive mental health path.
By: Better Me by Dr. B
Editor: Ariel Thompson
Medical Reviewer: Dr. Tiffany Bell D.O.