by Melissa Robbins, Volunteer, The Launch Pad Teen Center
The World Health Organization, in a 2022 fact sheet on adolescent and young adult health, stated the negative effects of ignoring children’s mental health conditions follow them into adulthood, “impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.”
This means one of the most crucial times to develop wellness skills is during pre-teen and teenage years.
However, many teens’ self-care may be self-led, as the 2021 Children’s Mental Health Report by the Child Mind Institute cited research showing around half of youth in the U.S. “who had a treatable mental health disorder in 2016 did not receive adequate treatment.”
One of The Launch Pad’s missions is ensuring all teens in the Prescott area have the opportunity to exercise these skills in a safe, encouraging environment. Here, teens not only build positive social networks, but ensure they’re actively invested in their own wellness and the wellness of others.
Making time daily to check in with themselves both mentally and physically can be a great starting point for teens looking to create lasting self-care habits.
Health e-Living, a blog run by Chester County Hospital in Pennsylvania, published a list of five questions to gauge your mental health:
- “How am I feeling today?”
- “What’s been worrying me lately?”
- “Am I providing my body with its basic needs?”
- “What am I doing to bring myself joy?”
- “Who do I have in my corner?”
Question five hints at an indispensable aspect of youth wellness: robust support systems.
In the Child Mind Institute’s report, Dr. Jill Emmanuelle cites empathy as a uniting factor between herself and young patients during the pandemic: “(It) was effective to be able to share, ‘Yes, I’m worried. I’m scared. I’m not sure what to do.’ There’s been a unifying experience that you don’t usually have in therapy that was and continues to be very powerful.”
Another important aspect of self-check-ins is being nonjudgement. A study published in the December 2018 edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concluded that, while it may feel better in the moment to ignore or push away negative thoughts or experiences, facing the negativity head-on is what makes a long-term difference.
Acknowledgement, acceptance and external support are what pave the way for teen wellness.