MARCH 2 every year is a day set aside for commemorating teen mental wellness. This is a commendable stance that goes a long way in raising greater awareness of mental health issues among teens, as well as provide education.
This information is meant for both parents, caregivers, and teens. Anyone with a teenager in their lives benefits from this. Just like me, I am sure you have probably already noticed that there is a lot going on in your teens.
From their physical bodies that are growing to roller-coaster of emotions and peer pressure. Our teenagers will need guidance in learning how to navigate changing situations in their lives.
With all the changes, Covid-19, and new things to learn during teenage years, mental health is always left out. But indeed, there has never been a better time to check-in with your teen mental well-being as this time.
Parents and caregivers need to help teens have health mental well-being and teenagers themselves need to be aware of how to look after their mental health.
As parents and caregivers, we must aim to normalise conversations about mental health and dismantle stigmas around teenmental health issues. The best treatment is prevention and recognising signs and symptoms that a teen may going through and assist them.
Remember that teens have pressures, it is storm and stress time and without support they will struggle.
For instance, apart from the stress brought because of Covid-19, peer pressure in teens can come in many ways,choosing the same clothes, hairstyle, or jewellery as their friends, listening to the same music or watching the same TV shows as their friends, changing the way they talk, or the words they use, taking risks or breaking rules, working harder at school, or not working as hard and many others.
There are things that teens and their caregivers can do to promote sound mental health.
For caregivers and parents
1) Show that you are interested in what is happening in your child’s life. Enjoy spending time together one on one with your child, and as a family.
2) Look for ways to check in with your teen every day, how they are doing, anything stressing them or any great thing to celebrate.
3) Encourage your teen to share his/her feelings and know that it is safe to share with you.
4) Take the time to support them. Work together on setting up new routines, boundaries, and achievable goals in their lives, these could be day to day, weekly to educational and career goals.
5) Work through conflict together. Listen to your teen’s views and try to sort out conflict calmly. Teach your teen to control their emotions and to express emotions in constructive ways.
Promoting mental well-being as a teenager
Looking after your mental health means learning strategies that can help keep you well and knowing when to get help if you need it. The habits you set up now can support you throughout your adult life.
1) Keep active and participate at home and at school, sports and church activities.
2) Develop and maintain healthy eating habits and stop junk food.
3) Get lots of regular and adequate sleep.
4) Limit your screen time and honour boundaries.
5) Avoid alcohol and other drugs.
6)Focus on your strengths — Take some time to think about what you’re good at and ways to do more of those things.
7) Find activities of hobbies that make you happy and incorporate them in your life.
8) Talk to someone — It can be hard to manage stress alone. Talk to a parent, teacher or other trusted adult about your problems and they may be able to help you find new ways to manage your stress or direct you where you can get help.
Remember our teens can thrive with our support and help. If they need professional emotional and psychological care, please feel free to refer them for that
Dr Mazvita Machinga Ph.D is a psychotherapist and mental health Specialist based in Mutare. For any psychotherapy, and emotional support contact 0771 754 519 / 0778 83 8410 Toll free helpline 08080482