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Embracing Mental Health Awareness Month: A Teen’s Guide to Wellbeing

Happy African American teen

As the flowers bloom and the days grow longer, May brings with it not just the promise of summer but also an important reminder—it’s Mental Health Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to shedding light on mental health issues and encouraging everyone, especially teens, to prioritize their mental wellbeing.

Why Mental Health Matters for Teens

Being a teenager can feel like a whirlwind. From juggling schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and social lives to navigating the pressures of social media and future plans, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s no surprise that many teens struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to pause, reflect, and take action to improve your mental health.

Common Challenges Teens Face

  1. Academic Pressure: The pressure to excel in school and get into a good college can be intense. Balancing homework, exams, and projects often leaves little room for relaxation and self-care.

  2. Social Media Stress: Social media platforms can be a double-edged sword. While they offer a way to stay connected, they also foster unrealistic comparisons and cyberbullying, impacting self-esteem and mental health.

  3. Identity and Self-Discovery: Teen years are a critical period for forming identity. Questions about who you are and who you want to become can be both exciting and daunting.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Mental Health

  • Talk About It: Don’t keep your feelings bottled up. Whether it’s with a friend, family member, or a therapist, sharing your thoughts can be incredibly relieving.

  • As author Matt Haig wisely said, “Mental health problems don't define who you are. They are something you experience. You walk in the rain and you feel the rain, but, importantly, you are not the rain.”

  • Set Realistic Goals: Aim high but be realistic. Set achievable goals for your academic and personal life to avoid unnecessary stress and disappointment.

  • Limit Screen Time: It’s essential to disconnect from the digital world and focus on the real one. Spend time outdoors, read a book, or engage in a hobby that brings you joy

  • Practice Self-care: Simple activities like reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature can help recharge your mental batteries.

  • Seek Professional Help: If you’re feeling persistently sad, anxious, or overwhelmed, consider speaking to a counselor or therapist. Remember, everyone’s journey is different, and it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

As actress Glenn Close once said, "What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation." Let’s take this to heart, shining a light on mental health and creating a culture of openness and acceptance.

We want our youth to know that they have the unique opportunity to shape their future by prioritizing their mental well-being now. So talk openly, support each other, and together, let's break the stigma surrounding mental health.

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