October 10th is a significant holiday: World Mental Health Day. This day was coined as a holiday to raise awareness around the importance of mental health, combat the stigma that has surrounded the subject for far too long, and fight for efforts supporting mental health.
In our efforts to raise awareness and fight the mental health stigma, we cannot forget about one significant piece of our population- our youth. The younger generations of our world are often pushed into doing more, achieving more, and being more. While these pressures are typically pushed to better our youth’s future, they can cause unnecessary stress and negative feelings that significantly impact their mental health. That is why I want to focus this article on ways our busy youth can alleviate the pressures of their everyday life and care for their mental health.
The Importance of Mental Health
Mental health disorders impact a significant portion of the world’s population and children are no exception. According to the World Health Association, a whopping one in seven adolescents around the world, aged between 10 and 19 years old, will experience some form of a mental health disorder. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that an estimated 9.4% of U.S. children are diagnosed with anxiety and 4.4% are diagnosed with depression. That is a staggering number of our youth who experience some form of mental health struggles and challenges.
Taking care of one’s mental health is important for everyone, no matter what stage of their life they may be in. However, childhood is the time in one’s life that will play a significant role in their future relationships, lifestyle, habits, and career.
Adolescence is the time in a person’s life during which they are establishing their identity and self-perception. As the child grows and develops, their mental health is critical to building a healthy and happy future. Their perception of themselves, the people around them, and the world they live in will be heavily impacted by the state of their mental health throughout their developmental years.
3 Key Steps to Caring for Your Mental Health
The World Health Organization characterizes mental health as a state of mental well-being that gives a person the ability to cope with stress, pursue their potential, learn effectively, work well, and be an actively contributing member of their community. This makes your mental health essential to a happy, healthy life. So, how can one properly care for their mental health and well-being?
Taking Care of Your Physical Health
Your physical health and mental health heavily depend on each other to thrive. Therefore, you should prioritize sleeping well, eating healthy foods, and moving your body.
Prioritizing Things That Relax or Bring You Joy
Making time for activities that make you feel relaxed or happy is critical to caring for your mental health. Make some time every day for at least one activity that helps you relax and unwind from the stresses of daily life and one that leaves you feeling happy and fulfilled.
Pursuing a Positive Mindset
Your mindset is a crucial player in your mental health. It isn’t always easy to think positively. However, you could encourage a positive mindset by:
Working to change your negative thinking patterns into positive ones
Making an effort to focus on the positive
Lean on Me, When You’re Not Strong
Few things are more critical to optimal mental health than having a solid support network. That critical support network can include one’s family, friends, a mental health professional, a teacher, a support group, and various other shapes and faces.
A multitude of research has been published focusing on the impacts having a strong social network has on a person’s mental health, resilience, and overall well-being. Positive social interactions with family and friends have been associated with:
reduced anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues
increased feelings of security
more effective communication skills
resilience against stress
protection against illness
and so much more
Your social network plays a genuinely significant role in your mental health. So, how can you strengthen it? A few steps include:
Focusing on deepening your existing relationships with family and friends. Reach out to them! Ask to hang out. Be there when they need you and lean on them when you need them.
Connecting with a community of people who enjoy similar things as you. Seek communities of people who enjoy the same hobbies, interests, or goals as you. Doing so will allow you to meet people with similar interests and find a healthy outlet for your stress and struggles.
Offering yourself support, too. The most important person in your support network is yourself, so don’t forget to prioritize self-care. Allow yourself some alone time, do things you love, and take care of the person you are.
This service is intended to provide adolescents with emotional support and advice as they need it: Singapore.
Monday to Friday | 9 AM – 6 PM (SGT)
This service is intended to provide adolescents with emotional support and advice as they need it: United States of America.
Monday to Sunday | 4 PM – 10 PM (PST)
(877) 968-8491 or text teen2teen to 839863 to get teen-to-teen crisis support during specific hours and adult aid at all other times.
This service is intended to provide adolescents with emotional support and advice as they need it: United Kingdom.
Every Day | 9 AM – 12 AM (BST)
Call 0800 068 4141 or text 07860039967 for confidential support and professional advice
References Biddle, S. (2016). Physical activity and mental health: evidence is growing. World Psychiatry, 15(2), 176–177. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20331
Fasihi Harandi, T., Mohammad Taghinasab, M., & Dehghan Nayeri, T. (2017). The correlation of social support with mental health: A meta-analysis. Electronic Physician, 9(9), 5212–5222. https://doi.org/10.19082/5212
National Institute of Mental Health. (2021, April). Caring for Your Mental Health. Www.nimh.nih.gov. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health
World Health Organization. (2021, November 17). Adolescent mental health. Www.who.int. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-mental-health#:~:text=Globally%2C%20one%20in%20seven%2010
World Health Organization. (2022). Mental health: Strengthening Our Response. World Health Organization; World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response