10 ways parents can help teens cope with their mental health

10 ways parents can help teens cope with their mental health

Exam pressure is a driving factor in the rise in mental health problems among young people, often seeing academic pressure and the fear of failure as the biggest stressors in their lives.  

Teenagers are facing mental health challenges all around the world/Unsplash

Whatever it is you're going through, just know that there is always someone you can talk to. Visit SADAG for more information.

Mental health does not discriminate, so it doesn't matter if you're a kid, teenager, or adult - it's a reality.  

It's no secret that mental health wellness is one of the biggest areas of focus right now. We've faced a pandemic, looting, floods, loadshedding, the rising costs of living, and more - not easy at all!

According to Bioteen, mental health matters are a top priority amongst teens. 

Read more: Chad le Clos talks about his struggle with depression

Parents lead busy, stressful lives and it isn’t always easy to notice when your teenager is feeling overwhelmed and lonely. 

But, parents are the adolescent’s support system – not only for lifts to school and putting food on the table, but for emotional assistance, too. 

Parental support is essential and a huge part of the support process is to teach your children how to manage their stress. 

Read more: 'Claims for mental health illnesses have increased since the COVID-19 outbreak'

This 10-point plan shared by Bioteen is a useful place to start if you - as a parent - also need advice on how to help your teenager.

1. Be mindful of stressors

It can be easier to just put your head down and keep moving forward without giving much thought to how you are feeling. Encourage your teen to take a breather and check in with them regularly. It is better to deal with stressors sooner rather than later.

2. Avoid unnecessary stress

We all know teenagers who seem to love the drama of life and seem to create their own stress. Teach your teen to pick their battles. Not everything is worth spending energy on.

Read more: Stressed? Here are some steps you can take to decompress and reset...

3. Focus on things you can change

Not everything is under our control. Your high schooler can’t decide when the geometry test is going to be, or whether they will be picked for the soccer team, but they can get out of bed 10 minutes earlier to make it to school on time and they can control their schedules to make time to study for their tests.

4. Exercise regularly

It may seem like adding exercise to the daily routine is just another stressor, but physical activity makes it much easier to manage the stress of everyday life as it releases hormones that make us feel good and help to reduce stress hormones.

5. Enjoy relaxing activities

It’s important to take time out to relax. It’s not a waste of time and it’s not being selfish. Whether it is yoga, a walk with the dog, a good laugh with friends or doodling in your journal, spending some time doing the things you enjoy will boost your mental health.

Read more: Study finds that social media affects girls' mental health more than boys...

6. Good nutrition

The basis of good health is good nutrition, as it provides the body with the nutrients it needs to support you physically and mentally, and in times of overwhelming stress it can be useful to supplement your diet with nutrients known to support mental health. Bioteen’s range of supplements and functional foods are formulated specifically for teenagers to support their health and wellness, study, mood and stress, and sports and exercise. 

7. Get a good night’s sleep

Everything seems better after a good sleep. Encourage your teen to go to bed early enough to ensure they get eight to 10 hours of sleep every night. Avoid electronic devices at least one hour before sleeping, as the light from screens can suppress the release of melatonin, which is the hormone that promotes sleep.

Read more: Five ways to establish healthy evening routines and get better sleep

8. Meditation

Meditating trains your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts and has been proven to provide many mental and physical health benefits. In fact, a three-year study among teens in Wisconsin recently found that using a mindfulness app resulted in significant reductions in worry that lasted up to six months, as well as some decline in symptoms of depression and anxiety

9. Talk it out

Encourage your teen to talk about what is bothering them. It helps to feel that the problem is shared. They can talk to you, a friend, a counsellor or a therapist. If they trust you with their concerns, listen to the way they speak and take special note of the type of language – and body language – they use. 

10. Get involved

Feeling that you are part of something and that you are making a difference is a great way to boost self-esteem and positive feelings. Join a team, get involved at church or volunteer to help others less fortunate.

For more information on mental health, visit our Lifestyle page.

Read more: Finding a balance between life, raising kids, and your career

How else can you help?

Adults don’t always have the best coping skills, but if you learn how to manage your stress in helpful, positive ways, you can teach your teenager to do the same by being a positive role model. 

Actively support your teen through the hard times: it always helps to know that they have someone who cares about them in their corner. 

And, above all, teaching them to identify when they are feeling stressed and how to effectively manage their stress will set them up for a calmer, more fulfilling life.

And remember, it's just as important to practice self-care, too, because finding a balance between life, raising kids, and your career is not easy.

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