6 ways to support your teen’s mental health

Mother and daughter talking outside
Getting outdoors is one way to help your teen practice self-care | Photo via Pexels

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As many as 20% of teenagers in the U.S. are affected by depression. To put that into perspective, 20% of Chattanooga’s population is ~36,000 people

Adolescence comes with its ups and downs, but it’s important for parents + caregivers to be aware of the signs that their teen is dealing with something more serious. Behavioral and attitude changes that are present over a period of time – like bouts of anger, loss of interest in activities, insomnia (or excessive sleep), social isolation + poor academic performance – can all be signs that your teen is dealing with depression, which should be discussed with their primary care doctor. (Need help finding one?)

And then: COVID. Decreased social interaction, disruption in school + holiday routines, and frustration over changes to future plans – these could all be contributing factors to your teen feeling anxious, depressed, or isolated.

With help from the experts at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, here are 6 ways you can support your teen’s mental health by helping them practice self-care. (And September just happens to be Self-Care Awareness Month + National Suicide Prevention Month.)

1. Get outdoors 🌲

Nature has been proven to have a calming effect on our minds and bodies. Check out our roundup of late-summer outdoor activities for inspo.

2. Write it out ✍️

A journal or diary is a great place for kids + teens (and adults) to make sense of emotions and complex feelings. Want to start simple? We recently participated in a gratitude challenge, taking some time each day to write about 3 things we’re grateful for

3. Find a creative outlet 🖍️

It can take the form of painting, drawing, building, crafting, coloring, cooking or baking, playing a musical instrument + more. We’re big fans of writing (obviously) + dancing.

4. Move it, move it 👟

Kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, and many don’t get that. Erlanger recommends helping your child or teen find a form of exercise they enjoy, whether it’s playtime, walking, a team sport, or going to the gym. 

5. Find stress relievers 🧘

Your teen might benefit from meditation or yoga (we love Yoga with Adriene’s videos, and they’re free). For some, the best stress relief is simply sitting in silence, and it has major health benefits

6. Put down the screen 📵

Teach your teen about the benefits of having a digital detox every once in a while – perhaps the whole family can get in on the challenge.