top of page

Why is Mental Health Important for Teenagers?

by: Taanvi Arekapudi, 9


Welcome everyone, I wanted to start sharing about something I am passionate about, and that is the Importance of Mental Health for Teenagers. Let me start off by addressing a common question which is...


Are mental health and mental illness the same? No, Mental health refers to anyone's state of mental, emotional well-being while on the other hand mental illness is a diagnosed condition. So, mental health includes the good aspects and the bad, because it’s your health which encompasses a wide range.


I would like to start off by addressing one of the most common misconceptions about mental health, which is “children don’t get effected by mental health.” This is not a fact, so if you ever hear anyone saying this, educate them that 50% of lifetime cases of mental illness starts from the age of 14. Mental health problems affect nearly every family. And, as a nation, we have struggled to break the mental health stigma.



To break the stigma, best place is to start with teens, by addressing their misconceptions, fears of the social consequences, discomfort with talking about these issues with others, and discrimination. By increasing their understanding and raising awareness, we can make a difference. This will help build a thriving community, and help themselves recover and lead happy, productive, and full lives.  


When one thinks of mental health, the first thing that comes to mind is mental illness. But that’s not all there is to it. As stated in Medical News Today, Mental health refers to “cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behaves.” Mental health is just as important as physical health and should be taken care of.


The important difference you should remember is, even though you may not see someone’s mental illness or mental health challenge like you would for a physical illness, doesn’t mean they don’t have one. Which means, mental health encompasses a wide range of things, and mental illness is a part of mental health. Dr. Brock Chisholm, the first Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), famously states ‘“without mental health there can be no true physical health”’ linking the physical and mental aspects of health.  


Why is mental health such a big deal for teenagers?  


Now that we know what mental health is, and that mental health effects teenagers, why is mental health such a big deal? Well, teenagers having poor mental health can influence their performance at school, grades, and there decision-making skills, but overall, there health. Recently, in the news King5 declared that King County schools face mental and behavioral health crisis. CDC reported a very concerning fact, that 1 in 3 high school students experienced "poor mental health" during COVID-19, and 1/2 "felt persistently sad or hopeless". These reports were from the SBIRT testing that more than 1,100 students did last school year. The overall statistics from that is 20% “screened red” meaning suicidal and self-harm tendencies. 20-30% “screened yellow” for both anxiety and depression.  


What are common mental health challenges for teenagers?  


Well, I am going to speak from my view about the common mental health challenges for teenagers, and from what I observe at school. Below are the most common mental health challenges in teens.

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Low Self-Esteem

  • Overwhelmed

  • Stressed

  • Isolated

  • Peer Pressure

  • Social Media Addiction

  • Discrimination

 Remember: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!


Photo: Facebook/Citizen Advocates


What are some ways to Maintain Mental Health and Well-Being?  


There are many ways to keep yourself mentally healthy, and for each person, it may be different. I was thinking of some of the ways I personally use to maintain my mental health and some from my friends. Below are a few coping strategies to keep yourself mentally healthy, from my book, Uplift Teens Today. You can find more information about these strategies, in my book, Uplift Teens Today.  

  • Daily Planner – to reflect on the day

  • Brain Breaks – to take a break from the work stress, and return with a fresh mind

  • Quick Mindfulness – to promote being in a calm mindset in the present moment

  • Me-Time – spending time doing what you like

  • Belly Breathing – to help fall asleep faster, and be more grounded

  • Square Breathing – to help with feeling calmer, and more connected

  • Sharing Emotions & Feelings – to express emotions and feelings

  • Positive Affirmations – to be kind to yourself, and promote positive thinking

  • To-Do List – to help organize your day, and make it more structured

  • Art – to help release emotions in a creative form

  • Sports – to help with relaxing emotions and distract the mind

  • Family Time – spending time with your family doing fun activities


Check out my YouTube Channel for more about these coping strategies!  


What are some of the advantages of mental health?   Let’s talk more about the advantages of having good mental health. As we all know, having good mental health can have a positive impact on our day-to-day lives. But how exactly? Below are the topmost advantages of having good mental health.

  • Better coping mechanisms to deal with life’s stressors

  • Can help prevent the development of mental and physical illness

  • Boosts low self-esteem

  • Healthier relationships (friends, family, school, etc.)

  • More productivity in working environments


How to help teens struggling with Mental Health?  


The “‘It’s Life or Death’: The Mental Health Crisis Among U.S. Teens” New York Times article shares the steps for how to help a teen struggling with their mental health, in a compassionate and empathetical manner. Here are the few steps they shared.  

  1. Recognize the signs.

  2. Approach with sensitivity.

  3. Offer healthy ways to manage emotions.

  4. Get the correct diagnosis

  5. Carefully consider medications.

  6. Don’t forget the basics.


My Ending Thought: How to show empathy when someone shares about their mental health challenges?  


In a scenario where a friend, sibling or family member comes to you talking about their mental health challenge, may it be small or big, the first thing that comes to one’s mind would be shifting them to feel happier. And that’s normal as we all try to uplift ourselves. To do this, we try showing empathy, some were taught that empathy is feeling what the other person is feeling by trying on their shoes.  


But, as we know that’s practically impossible, because we can never even begin imagining what the other person is going through. But we can still react with empathy, from another approach.


When researching about this, I learned that saying “It’s okay, and everything will be fine, be positive” or “I understand what you are going through” either suppresses their emotions making them ignore their feelings, or it makes them infuriated when you say you understand because everyone’s situation is different.  


Rather than approaching in this manner, some ways you can approach with more empathy and sensitivity could be, “I am there for you,” “What’s going on?” “Thank you for sharing,” “I can’t imagine what that would feel like,” There are more sentence starters like this when reacting to someone who opens up about their mental health challenges.


Remember, most importantly when someone shares about their mental health challenges, show them you care, and let them know it’s an open space for them to talk.  


1 view0 comments

Comments


bottom of page