Taryn Dunmars

There are common mental health problems that teens all around the world are facing. From anxiety and depression to eating disorders and suicide, teenagers are experiencing an increasing number of serious mental health issues.   

How to help a teenager with mental health issues 

Despite the numerous ways that adolescents can get help for many of their problems, mental health in highschoolers is suffering. So many are still struggling and not receiving the assistance they need. These tips for improving mental health in teens can help make a huge impact in their young lives and set them up for success as they transition from high school to college.   

Tip # 1: Helping teens find like-minded friends 

teenage boys smiling for a group picture

Teens struggling with mental health issues can sometimes isolate themselves. They may feel as if no one understands them or their problems, so it’s easier to withdraw. This, however, is the farthest from the truth. 

When a teen has a close group of friends (or even one good friend), it can make a huge difference in their lives. An article by Newport Academy states that “teen friendships are linked with psychological well-being.”  The more connected a teen feels, the better they will be at coping during hard times that occur. According to the article, teens that have good adolescent friendships struggle less with depression, often have higher levels of self-esteem, and have a higher life expectancy. 

If you know a teen who doesn’t have like-minded friends, getting them involved in extracurricular activities that they enjoy can make a difference. Doing this will put them around others who share the same interests as them, which can ultimately lead to newfound friendships.  

Tip # 2: Helping teens avoid drugs and alcohol   

person holding an ecigarette

Teenagers with mental health disorders are more likely to abuse substances than those who do not have such disorders. Alcohol and drug abuse amongst adolescents often make mental health disorders much worse, but teens usually think their disorders are improving because the substances numb the bad feelings. 

Child Mind Institute’s article further explains this matter, concluding that alcohol and other substances are not an effective way to treat mental disorders. In fact, partaking in those activities exacerbates issues like anxiety, negative thoughts, and depression. The article further states that although substances may “temporarily alleviate” mental disorders, “teens feel even worse when not using,” which is particularly detrimental to those who are suicidal. 

If a teen finds themselves needing to use alcohol or substances to cope with everyday activities, such as going to school or social events, they are at a much higher risk of becoming addicted before they reach adulthood.  

Teens who do drugs and drink alcohol to cope with their mental health are worsening their condition(s) in the long term, and healthier coping options are available for those in need. 

Tip # 3: Helping teens using digital courses     

teenage girl using laptop in the park

Teenage mental health disorders are pretty common. Without receiving proper help, high school students often run the risk of developing addiction problems, loneliness, negative thoughts, and much more.  

At EVERFI, we strive to bridge the learning gap with our digital mental health courses. Our courses are tailored to supplement the education teens receive in school and offer additional mental health tips for high school students.

Each course is designed with students in mind, offering interactive and entertaining modules to help them cope with the likes of depression, anxiety, and sometimes, thoughts of suicide. 

EVERFI’s mental health basics course, is a great starting point for adolescents who would like a better understanding of mental health disorders and healthy coping skills, and courses like Honor Code gives students the help they need to overcome peer bullying. 

EVERFI Honor Code Course

Tip # 4: Helping teens using counseling sessions 

therapist talking to a patient

There are a number of ways for teens to improve common mental health problems, and counseling sessions are one of them. Some teens may shy away from talking about their problems with a professional because they have trouble with being vulnerable or they may worry what others think if they found out. However, therapy for teens is one of the most effective ways for teens to overcome mental health disorders.  

Web MD’s article explains various forms of therapy teens could benefit from, including individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. Finding the best counseling option can change an adolescent’s outlook on hard-to-handle mental health issues and makes them more likely to triumph against difficult circumstances later in life.   

 If you know a teen in need of counseling, this article by Healthline gives a great list of online counseling programs teens can start this year.  

Tip # 5: Helping teens using exercise 

teenage boy lifting weights

Author Robin Sharma once said, “If you don’t make time for exercise, you’ll probably have to make time for illness.” Exercise (and usually  the lack thereof) plays a major role in adolescent mental health. When one exercises, “feel good” hormones, or endorphins, are released throughout the body, which in turn, improves a person’s mood and can alleviate stress or anxiety. 

If a teen’s mental health condition seems to be regressing, signing them up for a fun sport may be just the thing they need. Furthermore, being involved in sports and other recreational activities is an excellent way for students to foster peer relationships.  

A recent journal published by the National Library of Medicine studied the effects that physical exercise had among teenagers’ mental health. It was concluded that an active lifestyle had a positive impact on students. The article stated “physical exercise is conducive to coordinating interpersonal relationships and enables people in the same collective to learn to care for each other and understand and help others, thus forming the habit of communicating and cooperating with others.” 

 Get teens off the couch and off their phones by enrolling them in a fitness program of their choice. Before you know it, their mental health will significantly improve.

Tip # 6: Helping teens using mindfulness practices  

girl meditating in bedroom

When one thinks of strategies to counteract mental health disorders, mindfulness practices are not usually top of mind. Mindfulness activities, such as mediation and deep breathing exercises, have been proven time and time again to be effective in reducing negative mental health conditions. 

A recent journal by the American Psychological Association studied the effects of yoga and mindfulness practices among student musicians during COVID-19. The journal revealed “numerous benefits across multiple health and well-being dimensions including improvements in psychological distress.” 

When added to an adolescent’s daily routine, mindfulness activities can have the following benefits: 

  • Increase in emotional intelligence 
  • Reduction of chronic stress and anxiety 
  • Better coping mechanisms for mental disorders 
  • Improved self-esteem and self-worth 

Mindfulness practices are a free and effective way for teens to deal with everyday stressors and triggers that derive from poor mental health ailments.  

To learn how your organization can help make a difference in teens’ lives, click here.