Adolescence is a time of transition full of emotional, physical, and social changes. During this period, many young people face several challenges that can affect their mental health. Academic pressure, hormonal changes, identity construction and difficulties in interpersonal relationships are just a few examples of the situations that adolescents face daily. During this period, many adolescents face mental health problems that can affect their well-being and development. Anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-esteem issues are just some of the challenges that can arise. Let’s explore the importance of taking care of adolescents mental health and look at effective strategies for supporting young people at this critical stage in their lives.
Encourage open communication
It is critical to establish an environment in which adolescents feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions. Encouraging open and respectful communication gives them the confidence to seek help when they need it. Adults and support figures should be willing to listen without judgment, validate their feelings, and offer guidance when needed.
Be a healthy role model
Adolescents learn a lot by observing the adults in their lives. It is important to be a healthy role model by taking care of our mental health. This involves managing stress in healthy ways, seeking help when needed and practicing self-care. By showing them how to deal with challenges in a positive way, we provide them with a powerful example of how to take care of their own mental health.
Teaching adolescents the importance of self-care is essential for their mental health. For example, maintaining a balanced diet. The connection between diet and mental health is undeniable. A balanced, nutrient-rich diet can have a positive impact on adolescents’ mood and mental health. Some foods that have been shown to benefit mental health include those rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and walnuts, and foods containing tryptophan such as turkey and dairy, which can help improve the production of serotonin, a key neurotransmitter in emotional well-being.
Adequate sleep is essential. During sleep, the brain recovers and processes the day’s emotions. Establishing a regular sleep routine, creating an environment conducive to rest, and limiting the use of electronic devices before bedtime can help improve sleep quality and, in turn, promote better mental health.
Regular physical activity is a powerful tool for adolescent mental health care. Exercise releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that act as natural painkillers and improve mood. Encourage adolescents to participate in physical activities they enjoy, such as sports, dance, yoga, or walking outdoors. In addition to the physical benefits, exercise can be an effective way to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and promote emotional well-being.
Educate about mental health
Mental health education is a powerful tool to break down stigma and foster understanding. Adolescents should be given accurate and accessible information about different mental disorders, their symptoms and how to seek help. This helps them to recognize warning signs both in themselves and in their peers, thus promoting a culture of support and solidarity.
Access to resources and specialized professionals
It is essential that adolescents have access to mental health resources and professionals. Schools and communities should provide information on counselling, therapy, and psychological support services. This includes providing information on helplines, non-profit organizations and online platforms that offer resources and support to young people facing mental health problems.
Outdoor activities and contact with nature
Nature has a therapeutic effect on our mental health. Encouraging adolescents to spend time outdoors, whether walking, playing sports, or simply enjoying a park, can help reduce stress, improve mood, and promote greater emotional well-being. Connecting with nature can be especially beneficial in the digital age we live in as it can disconnect them from screens and encourage a greater connection with themselves and the environment.
Natural products for support
There are also natural options that can complement conventional treatments and be additional support. Some herbs and natural supplements can be helpful in supporting emotional stability in adolescents, such as affron®. A study conducted with adolescents in 2018 (1) showed that the administration of affron® for 8 weeks was associated with an improvement in generalized symptoms of separation stress, occasional anxiety, social phobia, and low mood.
Ultimately, adolescence can be a challenging time for young people’s mental health, but with the right support and effective strategies, they can overcome challenges and build a solid foundation for their emotional well-being.
(1) Lopresti, A. L., Drummond, P. D., Inarejos-García, A. M., & Prodanov, M. (2018). Affron®, a standardised extract from saffron (Crocus sativus L.) for the treatment of youth anxiety and depressive symptoms: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Journal of affective disorders, 232, 349-357.