- Kaitlyn Landaverde, APA
Mental Health & Why It’s Important
Last year, our world felt as if it was turned upside-down, along with our emotions and mental health. It can be hard to realize when it’s time to take a deep breath or even recognize you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, mood swings, etc. It’s important to be aware of signs of neurosis and coping mechanisms. While one needs a medical doctor to diagnose mental illness, by being aware of human behavior and reactions, one can be better equipped to take care of oneself.
The Importance of Mental Health
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being and impacts our day-to-day life, from how we feel and think to how we act and react to stress. Mental health affects us whether we realize it or not. It’s not always easy being a teenager, between schoolwork, home life, relationships and making life altering decisions. We are always told “this is when it counts,” and sometimes that weight can feel like it is a burden to bear. Maintaining a healthy mindset is important in living a successful lifestyle. From deadlines to falling out with friends to how we see ourselves in the mirror, society puts pressure on us to act, look and feel a certain way, so it’s easy to fall into a habit of feeling as if we are not worthy enough. Mental health awareness allows teens to recognize poor habits and equips them with the ability to cope with stresses and insecurities.
Symptoms & Triggers of Poor Mental Health
Spotting poor mental health can be difficult since it manifests in different forms, but being aware of some symptoms and triggers can allow one to prevent poor habits from evolving. It is not uncommon for poor mental health habits or problems to start during adolescence, and it is important not to normalize these habits when we are young, and our brains are still developing.
According to teenmentalhealth.org, anxiety presents itself in many ways from inducing fidgeting to causing headaches and even inducing muscle tension. Feelings of worry or dread and overthinking are other common signs of poor mental health. As are frequently skipping meals or losing one’s appetite. Sometimes, getting out of bed and being productive can feel like a struggle to someone dealing with anxious feelings or extreme sadness. Triggers, or instigating factors, can vary from person to person but they often involve past trauma or stressful situations. When feeling stressed, anxious, or down, recognize what sparks your irrational behavior. Test-taking, loads of homework, large crowds, or even awkward situations can be triggers. It may feel like seemingly random situations or activities evoke these difficult emotions, but making a mental note of what triggers you is important in coping with and improving your mental health.
Misconceptions of Mental Health
Misconceptions of mental health are rampant throughout society and can make individuals feel intimidated when reflecting on their lives or seeking help. It’s important to realize everyone is different, meaning mental illness may manifest differently in different people. Not to mention, not all symptoms can be seen by others. Oftentimes, people with mental illness may try to hide their emotions or behaviors and may not realize the mental health misconceptions influencing their emotions or behaviors:
“I just want to be happy”
Maintaining a healthy mindset does not mean one is always happy or calm. It’s normal to feel stressed, annoyed, angry or sad. Always being happy isn’t an attainable goal since it is unrealistic.
“Dealing with mental illness isn’t normal. So why do I feel this way?”
Mental Illness is a more prominent issue than most people think. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2017, 20 percent of Americans, 46.6 million lived with mental illness. Now, due to the pandemic, these numbers are only increasing. If you are feeling confined or depressed, you are not alone.
“It’s all just for attention, a cry for help”
Misunderstanding or a lack of knowledge about mental health can lead individuals to downplay other’s mental illnesses. It is best to avoid judging others’ situations, as we never know what may have happened in someone’s past or how that person feels when he or she is alone. Anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses are not choices and can’t always easily be fixed. If you are someone who suffers from mental illness, downplaying or bottling your own emotions will only lead to further problems later.
Mental Health in Teens
Mental illness in teens is not as uncommon as one may think. According to Newport Academy, a teen rehabilitation center, teens are more likely to deal with anxiety due to the pressure put on adolescents to be successful. This stress can lead to a variety of disorders, illnesses, and issues such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
What Are Some Ways To Cope With Poor Mental Health/ Stress?
Coping with poor mental health habits and stress is different for everyone. For some, it may mean taking a quick breather between classes, and for others, it may mean taking a dance break or squeezing a stress ball, which are all great options. Maintaining a healthy mindset is the true goal, which may mean making a few minor changes to your lifestyle.
It is common for us to roll out of bed and go on our phones, check emails, scroll through social media, check our agenda, etc. This is already setting ourselves up for a mindset chained to our phones. The first thing you should do in the morning is make your bed. I am sure you have heard your parents tell you this a million times, but making your bed actually leads you to be productive over the course of the day, in part because it keeps you from simply rolling back into bed. It also makes your space look cleaner, which puts you in a better mindset. Waking up early and allowing yourself enough time to get ready for your day without rushing is another great habit to practice.
Stress Relievers come in different forms. For some, it may mean going for a run, for others reading. Whatever healthy activities make you feel at ease, you should practice daily.
Working out, dancing, stretching. All physical activity allows your body to release hormones called endorphins, which are essentially 'happy hormones.' Engaging in physical activity boosts your mood, and you will find that this helps most individuals who experience tension in muscles, though everyone benefits from physical activity.
Affirmations are a great way to boost self-esteem and take power back from your anxiety/depression. This is perfect if you feel yourself get anxious or depressed in public, or if nothing else seems to be helping you. Simply encouraging yourself to push forward helps you to realize you are there for yourself and that is most important.
Overall, show up for yourself, maintain healthy habits, and be patient with yourself, because some goals will come easier than others. Talk to people you trust; parents/guardians, aunts, siblings, teachers and your guidance counselor are amazing resources to help you to get to where you want to be.
-ThinkUp: daily positive affirmations tailored to you
-Live Happy: daily affirmation based on positive psychology
-Happify: games and activities you can practice for a positive mindset
Advocates for mental health and self-development through literature. You can find positive quotes, book recommendations, and even live seminars.
A great source for unique affirmations, even positive wallpapers.
A source for daily affirmations, quotes, and advice.
All in all, mental health is the key to living a successful life, and it is important to be aware of potential symptoms and coping mechanisms. There is so much information on mental health due to the demand. These resources are meant to help teens to cope with daily stressors from school, society, or just life in general.