5 Essential Ways to Promote Mental Well-being in your Adolescent
Adolescents these days more than ever need skills to secure themselves from pressures of the modern-day world. Cutting-edge competition, peer pressures, substance abuse, bullying and potential risks of social media are key contributing factors of psychological stress amongst them. As per the recent WHO mental health statistics, 16-20 percent of adolescent between the age groups of 10-19 years have some type of mental health disorder (WHO, 2018). Calling for the critical need to safeguard our young minds, World Mental Health Theme for this year is Young People and Mental Health.
The common question asked by parents who come with their teen, “is it possible for them to have anxiety or depression at this age or is it part of their teenage years?”
My answer to them is yes and yes. With half of mental illness starting at the age of 14 years, yes concerningly it is a reality at their age. Hence, it is most crucial for parents to equip themselves and their children with skills to promote mental well-being.
- Listen empathetically and problem solve:With the best of intentions, the compelling need to help them with immediate solution or rescue them from feeling bad can make you respond without complete understanding of the problem posed. It is important to hear them empathetically. A simple statement of “I understand you may be feeling upset, let’s try to work on what we can do to resolve it, would you like me to help you?” can make them feel understood and comforted.
- Instil Self-belief:The biggest asset is to have strong self-belief. Considering the challenges that they have to face at this age and meeting the various expectations posed by self, others and society at large, self- esteem can go down. Talk about their strengths and help them work on their limitations. This would bring in authenticity to their belief about themselves.
- Make them Run their own race:It is quite common for them to compare their life with peers specially with those who are doing great. It can increase their disappointment inducing feeling of resentment towards self and others. Help them define their goals and run their own race. Talk about the joy of running and finishing one’s own than worry about others. Share stories of failures of yourself and role models who they aspire to be, talk about how failures define your success.
- Nurture Self-Awareness:Developing self-awareness gives one the ability to monitor, control one’s behaviour and also modify self-beliefs in relation to self and the worlds around. Making them think about simple questions like how can you live a happy life, what makes you feel good about yourself, what can you so respect others and feel respected too, builds critical thinking and perspective taking. It increases flexibility to adapt changes and also enhances self-confidence and self-assurance.
- Encourage them to talk and seek support:Give your child the space to talk about anything without holding any judgements. This unconditional support will give them the strength and comfort to reach out to you. Encourage seeking support from experts as well as your teen might be struggling with something that you both find difficult to resolve.
As parents, we must continue the dialogue of preserving mental well-being of our young generation, and work towards building a society sensitive towards mental health.