Why we must focus on the mental wellbeing of teenagers

Take a look at why this phase of life is a crucial stepping stone for the mental health of an individual

 

Teenage or adolescent years tend to be a phase of ups and downs. It is a period of rapid growth changes and confusion in which an individual lets go of a safe hold on childhood and reaches out for a firm grasp on adulthood. It is during this phase that a teenager inculcates a sense of self, based on new feelings, a new body image, and a changing construct of their role with parents, peers and significant others. 

Given these major changes, coupled with the stress of academics and social pressure, these years are significant for the teenagers. Its also an important time for parents to watch out for and ensure the mental wellbeing of the adolescent. 

Also, most of an individual's personality is formed during this phase. The brain faculties of teenagers are in the process of developing, which is why it is not unusual for them to have difficulties in decision-making, time management, goal-setting and problem-solving.

"Some commonly seen issues among teenagers are substance related issues, sexuality concerns, sleep related concerns, unhealthy eating habits and technology addiction. However, if these concerns develop into problems wherein it affects their social and occupational (school or college) functioning, they need to seek help from a mental health expert," says Dr Priya Kayastha Anand, a clinical psychologist, practicing psychotherapy with children and adolescents in Bangalore.

Dr Kayastha also adds that the two key requirements for the mental wellbeing of teenagers are self-motivation and self-discipline, while the prerequisites for driving the teenager towards it are inner satisfaction and contentment.

Needs of a teenager:

  • Wanting to be treated as a growing individual and with respect
  • Being acknowledged for what they think and feel
  • Feeling of being understood empathetically
  • Guidance
  • Validation

How can parents help their teenagers cope with this vital phase?

  • Personality of parents can also affect the teenager. Hence role-modeling plays an important role, which includes the ability to label and manage emotions, to be assertive and to communicate appropriately.
  • Being open, communicative, supportive and democratic in approach while interacting with teenagers.  
  • Exercising a sense of control
  • Taking the consent of the teenager before making decisions for them
  • Establishing family time through leisure activities.
  • Motivating the teenager to think for themselves by encouraging and guiding the teenager to resolve their own problems.
  • Avoiding comparisons

Teenagers can cope by:

  • Working on their self-motivation and self-discipline
  • Confiding in an adult whom they trust
  • Taking care of their sleep hygiene
  • Keeping a check on the type of food they are eating
  • Following a proper schedule
  • Setting life goals by questioning how they would like to see themselves after five years

It is important to note that every teenager is unique and develops in a different way and at a different pace. It is increasingly becoming a need for parents, teachers and adolescents to focus on the process of this important life stage rather than on the outcome.