Stress and mental health issues are prominent among teenagers in America today. According to the American Psychological Association, stress significantly impacts teens’ mental health. While most teens are resilient, they are still human and have limits on how much pressure they can handle. Read this short list of teen stressors and add any others that aren’t on the list. The more stressors teens experience, the more significant the impact may be on their mental health.
- Academic demands.
- Extracurricular activities.
- Part-time job.
- Peer pressure to have sex, drink alcohol, or misuse drugs.
- Hormonal changes and self-image.
- Unsafe living environment or neighborhood.
- Family divorce or separation.
- Family financial problems.
- Moving, changing schools.
- Friendship issues.
- Illness in themselves or a loved one.
- Traumatic experiences (abuse, the death of a loved one, and surviving a life-threatening event).
Having stress is normal, and it exists throughout life. Not all teens know how to recognize signs of stress, which is crucial to coping with it.
Signs of Teen Stress
Each teen has a pattern of behavior developed throughout their lifetime that can reveal how they deal with stress and mental health. Any variation to this pattern could signal stress. For example, stress may be the culprit if a teenager has always been laid back but is now easily irritated or has angry outbursts.
Other signs of teen stress include crying, withdrawing from friends or family, drop in grades, overeating, undereating, sleep troubles, lack of energy, relying on substances to cope, and physical aches and pains with no source. Stressors and signs will vary among teens. If left untreated, they will impact mental health.
Mental Health Issues Among Teens
The most recent data on teen mental health since the pandemic shows that 37% of high school students report experiencing poor mental health. Among these respondents, over 44% claim they feel sad and hopeless, and nearly 20% have thoughts of suicide. With one in six youth between ages six and seventeen experiencing a mental health disorder each year, talking about these issues is more critical than ever. Stress can be like the first domino that causes others to fall.
It can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, thoughts of suicide, and for some, criminal behaviors. When these are left untreated, more dominoes fall, like career, relationships, education, and more. The sooner teens learn appropriate coping skills, the more likely they can avoid adverse outcomes and adequately manage their stress and mental health. There are different types of therapeutic modalities that can help teens learn how to deal with stress.
Coping Tips for Teens With Stress and Mental Health Issues
Hundreds of suggestions for coping with stress and mental health problems exist and can be adapted to fit each teen’s unique needs. Below are six actions teens can take today to start feeling better.
1. Seek Help From a Teen Mental Health Program
Mental Health America reports that more than half of all teens with a mental health disorder do not receive any treatment. In the United States today, there are numerous avenues for teens to receive the help they deserve. Utilizing school and community resources can be one of the best ways to seek help for stress and mental health. Residential programs are often a great starting point because they give teens a break from their everyday environment.
During this time, teens receive treatment for mental health issues that help them reset with new skills they can use when they return home. Behavioral therapies are offered in individual, group, and family activities. Other forms of treatment to benefit teens include intensive outpatient and school-based programs. Working with a professional, teens can create individualized stress-management plans.
2. Avoid Stress When Possible
Not all teens know they can avoid stress and that it is okay to say “no” to academic and social requests. Some teens feel that if an adult asks them to take on more work or participate in an activity, they are disrespectful if they decline. However, teens must learn to prioritize their health and be confident to put their needs first.
Teens must also learn to recognize and avoid the people, places, and things that cause stress. Examples include friend groups that pressure a teen to use drugs or alcohol, late-night parties with no adult supervision, getting involved in an argument between two friends, not studying for an upcoming exam, or skipping school or work.
3. Find an Outlet to Release Stress
Find an activity that distracts you from the thoughts leading to stress. Coloring books, journaling, listening to music, and face timing with a counselor are outlets where you can release stress. You don’t have to choose one of these, however. Finding a hobby as an outlet can significantly help anyone dealing with stress and mental health.
4. Practice Self-Care to Relieve Stress
Promoting overall well-being, starting in adolescence, can significantly improve mental health symptoms. Self-care is a hot topic in teen mental health today. Teens can practice self-care by becoming mindful of their body’s physical and mental needs. Achieving this self-awareness is possible through various forms of meditation and yoga. Teens can also exercise, eat healthy foods, play with a pet, hang out with friends, and get enough sleep.
5. Unplug and Deactivate
Teens today may not realize electronics can cause stress because technology has been a part of their lives since they were born. There is a need for teens to go offline, if even for a day. Video games and social media cause stress and mental health issues. Some experience cyber-bullying and some compare themselves to others who post unrealistic photos with filters. Also, needing to respond to all messages from friends creates stress. Limiting the time a teen spends each day online can reduce stress and improve stress and mental health.
6. Learn Time Management Skills
Teens have a lot on their plates, sometimes too much. They are left with too much to do in not enough time. Simple time management techniques like using a calendar to help a teen meet deadlines and avoid overbooking. They learn to set goals, develop routines, prioritize activities, and see their accomplishments.
Start Managing Stress and Mental Health Issues Today
Whether you feel overloaded with stress, struggle with mental health issues, or want prevention advice, reach out for advice. You don’t have to wait until stress interferes with daily functioning. Contact our support team to learn more about teen stress and mental health.