Adolescence is a time of formative experiences, lessons learned and changing emotions. We are honored each day to work with our students and support them in this fundamental chapter of their lives. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this month, we are drawing special attention to the importance of mental health when it comes to supporting our youth. Like adults, adolescents have emotions, experience stress, and require coping mechanisms to be able to get through life’s challenges. What can parents, guardians, teachers, and school administrators do today that can positively impact the mental health of the youth in their lives? We can do plenty! Find several tips and resources below for supporting mental health for our youth.
One of the most important lessons an adolescent can begin to learn is how to be resilient in the face of adversity and challenges. Learning to approach life with a resilient mindset can help students be successful now and in the future. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, four factors can contribute to a youth’s improved sense of resilience.
1. Practice healthy habits:
Guide children towards making healthy lifestyle habits, including consistently getting great sleep, exercising, and exploring stress reduction methods such therapy, yoga, and meditation.
2. Enable emotional connections:
Help children have healthy relationships with the adults in their lives and ensure that praise and affirmations of love occur more frequently than criticisms.
3. Cultivate emotional awareness:
Youth is a time where developing emotional awareness skills is critical. Not only is it important to learn how to control one’s own emotional reactions, it is also important for youth to learn how to validate and understand their emotions as well as the emotions of others.
4. Build problem solving skills:
Encourage children to acknowledge the presence of the problems they may face, and approach them with a curious mindset. Ensure children can find solutions to their problems and support them with finding a solution.
Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally bringing awareness to the present moment and better choose a response to what is happening. This skill can be crafted over time with intention and can be taught to youth in a variety of ways. Some mindfulness activities you may be able to try with your child include deep breathing, quiet walks, and reflecting together on positive moments throughout the day.
Provide Help When Necessary
When mental health is neglected, we know this can sometimes lead to tragic consequences. Supporting the mental health of adolescents also includes recognizing that youth suicide is preventable. Always take discussion of suicidal thoughts seriously and remember that you are not alone. Our team at GMV is here to support you and assist you in navigating this difficult situation.
Enabling youth to connect with their community can ease their sense of loneliness, anxiety, or depression. At GMV we build community through a variety of opportunities such as daily Advisory, Lunch Bunch, and student Clubs. Another resource for discussing mental health for teens is the On Our Minds podcast. This podcast series is created by students and discusses a variety of mental health issues and topics. It may be helpful for adolescents to have the opportunity to hear from and connect to peers in their age group to validate their experiences and perspective.