How to Build Mental Health and Wellness in Teenagers

Infographic on Ways to Build Mental Wellness in Teenagers
Just like our physical health, our mental health can deteriorate if we don't look after it. It's important to help teenagers develop the skills to build their mental wellness, so that they can handle stress and life's many challenges.

Mental health is something that we all have and need to take care of. Just like our physical health, mental health can deteriorate if we don’t look after it.

It’s important to have good mental health for teenagers so they can build resilience and be better equipped to deal with the challenges life throws at them.

Warning Signs of Mental Ill-Health in Teenagers

There are a number of warning signs that can indicate that a teenager is struggling with their mental health. If you notice your teen is:

  • withdrawing from friends and activities they used to enjoy
  • sleeping more or less than usual
  • having difficulty concentrating
  • eating more or less than usual
  • experiencing mood swings
  • exhibiting signs of self-harm

It’s important to have a conversation with your teen about how they’re feeling and offer support if you are witnessing any of these symptoms.

How to Talk to Your Teen About Mental Health

If you’re worried about your teen’s mental health, it’s important to have an open and honest conversation with them. Let them know that you are there for them and want to help. It can be difficult for teenagers to talk about how they are feeling, so be patient and try to create a safe and welcoming environment for them to open up in.

Start the conversation with something like:

"I’ve noticed you’ve been withdrawn/sleeping more/etc. and I just wanted to check in with you about how you’re doing?"

If your teen is reluctant to talk, try asking specific questions about how their day was or if anything is worrying them. It’s also important to let them know that it’s okay to not be okay and that they can come to you anytime if they need to talk.

Praising your teen and letting them know they are important to you can also encourage them to open up about how they are feeling.

Building Mental Health and Wellness in Teenagers

There are a number of things you can do to build mental health and wellness in teenagers:

Encourage them to express their feelings and talk about any problems they’re having

Teaching teens to understand their own emotions and be able to express them can help them cope with difficult situations. There are a number of ways you can teach your teen to express their feelings, such as:

  • Journaling
  • Talking to a trusted adult
  • Participating in therapy or counselling
  • Exploring creative outlets, such as art, music, or writing

Help them develop a positive self-image

Boosting your teenager’s self-esteem can help them feel better equipped to deal with life’s challenges. There are a number of things you can do to help your teenager develop a positive self-image, such as:

  • Complimenting them regularly
  • Encouraging them to pursue their interests and talents
  • Helping them set realistic goals
  • Talking to them about body confidence and helping them understand that everyone is unique and beautiful

Encourage healthy eating and exercise

A healthy diet and regular exercise can improve both physical and mental health. To help your teenager eat healthily, you can:

  • Encourage them to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Limit sugary and processed foods
  • Encourage them to drink plenty of water
  • Help them plan healthy meals

For exercise, you can:

  • Encourage them to participate in a sport or other physical activity they enjoy
  • Join a gym or exercise class together
  • Go for walks or bike rides together

Teach them how to manage stress and cope with difficult situations

Stress is a natural part of life, but it’s important to teach your teenager how to manage it in a healthy way. There are a number of things you can do to help your teenager cope with stress, such as:

  • Encouraging them to take breaks when they’re feeling overwhelmed
  • Teaching them relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation
  • Helping them identify and manage their triggers
  • Encouraging them to seek professional help if they’re struggling to cope

Encourage them to stay connected with friends and family

Friends and family can provide valuable support during difficult times. To encourage your teenager to stay connected with their loved ones, you can:

  • Help them plan get-togethers and activities
  • Encourage them to stay in touch through phone calls, text messages, social media, or other means
  • Teach them how to resolve conflicts

Help them find a hobby or activity they enjoy

Hobbies and activities can help reduce stress, promote positive self-esteem, and provide a sense of accomplishment. To help your teenager find a hobby or activity they enjoy, you can:

  • Talk to them about their interests
  • Encourage them to try new things
  • Help them find resources, such as classes or books, about their chosen activity
  • Accompany them to participate in their hobby or activity

Promote positive thinking and help them to see the good in themselves and the world around them

One of the best things you can do for your teenager is to help them develop a positive outlook on life. There are a number of ways you can promote positive thinking, such as:

  • Encouraging them to express gratitude for the good things in their life
  • Helping them develop a support network of friends and family
  • Teaching them how to reframe negative thoughts in a more positive light
  • Encouraging them to seek professional help if they’re struggling to cope

Seek professional help if you’re concerned about your teenager’s mental health

If you’re concerned about your teenager’s mental health, it’s important to seek professional help. Mental health professionals can assess whether your teenager is experiencing a mental health problem and provide treatment if necessary. To find a mental health professional in your area, you can:

  • Talk to your teenager’s doctor
  • Contact your local mental health association
  • Search for providers online
  • Call a helpline, such as Beyond Blue, Lifeline or Kids Help Line.

If you’re concerned about your teenager’s mental health, it’s important to seek professional help. You can also purchase a first aid course to be able to respond to mental health issues and crises as they emerge.

Conclusion

If you’re concerned about your teenager’s mental health, it’s important to seek professional help. You can also purchase a first aid course to be able to respond to mental health issues and crises as they emerge.

Do you have other ideas for how to build mental health and wellness in teenagers? Share them with us in the comments below!

Australia Wide First Aid offers a First Aid course wherein you can develop the knowledge and confidence to assist those who are in emergency situations and are at their most vulnerable.

Additional Resources

For more information on how to develop mental fitness in young people, head to our Resource Library. You will also find tips and tricks for building mental fitness in children, and for rebuilding mental fitness after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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