5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Health in Youth

Mar 16, 2020 | Family Life, Personal Development

Mental health is just like taking care of our physical health. It’s not a bad word, it’s not “crazy”, and it isn’t something to take lightly. How to manage mental health is a daily exercise, just like going for a walk or drinking water for our bodies. How to manage mental health in youth is a whole nother ballgame. I’ve got five valuable ways you’re going to want to check out to know how to help manage mental health in your teen or child.

manage mental health in youth peace sign

Children are resilient, you think?

As parents, we are told to feed our children a variety of foods, to get enough sleep, and to exercise. We want them to learn how to read, do chores, and know how to share toys. But what about their mental health? No one told me as a parent to teach my child how to deal with stress, depression, or low self-esteem; we were told children are resilient. Yet, are children really resilient?

In some instances, yes we all are resilient. But with traumatic events that cause deep wounds, resilience isn’t going to work. From a loss of a friend, a major illness or injury, physical or verbal abuse, or embarrassing events, some experiences or words, for that matter, will stick with them and affect their psyche. Heck, it happens to us parents! No one wants to be depressed, let alone their child or teenager. But how do we help them know how to manage mental health?

There are many things we can try at home before jumping to a therapist and prescriptions. **Please know I am NOT a professional counselor, nor am I trying to be. I share information I have either experienced myself or are extremely interested in. I like to keep things simple. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things.**

How to manage mental health in youth: the first steps

For young children knowing how to manage mental health starts with them watching you do things. They aren’t going to naturally know how to manage depression, they need you to encourage them, to show them, and walk alongside them.

My parents were big outdoor people. My mom gardened and my dad worked in the yard; we were outside doing projects and playing all the time. I learned at a young age how to develop a relationship with nature. It was not until later in life I realized how important that relationship was going to be. Nature is my #1 go-to because that’s what my parents did. For instance, gardening is essential for my mental health. There is something about putting your hands in dirt that helps reduce stress. I learned this from my mom.

Martin Luther King Jr. quote walking
More inspirational quotes here

It’s not too late for your teen

What if you didn’t have the chance to show your young child how to process foul events? You can help them now. It’s not too late to walk alongside your teenager who might be going through a rough patch. Your teenager needs you more than they did as a toddler. As you know, parents helping teenagers is a delicate balance. Let’s face it, there is only so much a parent can do before your teen gets annoyed.

Forcing them to talk isn’t going to work. But being a non-judgemental friend is going to help. Start by confiding in them. Tell them you’re dealing with something and you’re going to go for a hike or head to the beach. Tell them you need them to come with you, to hang. As much as they refuse, the more they need to come. Show them how you manage mental health. Personally, I garden, walk outside, pray, journal, talk to a trustworthy friend, memorize Bible scripture, and listen to instrumental music. My son knows this because he sees me do it. Comforting hurting people is essential to their mental state, it also helps you too! Here are 6 Easy Ways to Comfort Hurting People. You may find some good stuff there.

The brain

Get a load of this. National Geographic wrote, “Nature provides us essentials like clean water, food, medicines, even recreational retreats… it also helps regulate our weather and climate. But these systems are extremely fragile…we know that once they are gone, there are no replacements.” We didn’t need National Geographic to tell us this about nature. However, isn’t that statement similar to our mental health? Our brains need clean water, good food, and recreational escapes to help normalize our well-being. If we don’t get these things, our minds, too, are fragile and will break.

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What’s next?

Probably the biggest step in helping ourselves and our children with mental health management is to digest that we have something going on. Upon discovery, many may experience anger at first, but others will feel relief that they finally figured a piece of the puzzle out. Does that make sense? All in all, when we can embrace it and understand it, we’ll have a better chance of managing it and living that amazing life we always envisioned.

5 valuable ways to help manage mental health in youth

Here are some creative ways to help you and your family manage our mental well-being at home in a natural way. Be sure to check out my post on How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps and How to Reduce Stress in Your Life: 10 Breakthrough Tips, these posts have some great information in them.

1. Get outside

Remember that relationship with nature I started talking about? The National Academy of Sciences performed a study that shows a simple 90-minute walk in nature {a place with trees} decreases negative thinking about oneself. Taking a walk in an urban area like a city or industrial park has zero effect. This study reveals that there is a “…pathway by which nature experiences may improve mental well-being and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health…”

We may not have 90 minutes to take a walk but I’m sure we can do 20 minutes. The University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation,” which is largely due to screen time… Push your kids outside. Yes, even your teenagers. Go with them. Just last night my son and I went outside and played with our dog.

More nature quotes & the power of the outdoors

Other outside activities for teens and kids

As for other ideas with your teen, start an outside sport together like tennis, pickleball, or throwing the baseball around. Do a project together outside, like a garden, build a hunting blind, do yard work, or have a campfire. Don’t have a yard? Head to the park. Go for a walk. Take up fishing together. My personal favorite is gathering the family together (all ages) and doing The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt Challenge. This is so incredibly fun and inexpensive. You can download the instructions in my Freebies.

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For little kids, show them how to build a fort, climb trees, make an obstacle course, look for birds or pretty flowers, or play in the snow. When my son was little I liked to grab a camera (a camera separate from a phone) and ask for certain pictures to be taken, for instance, anything that is yellow, rocks, funny-looking sticks, things like that. My son absolutely loved it!

Plant trees or volunteer in a park or nature event. If nature goes away; so will our sanity.

2. Do something kind for the body.

Our bodies take most of the brunt of stress. So instead of cursing your body, bless it! As much as my body and mind are not getting along, I’m still kind to it. When you feel good, you are kinder to yourself and others around you. Do you need to go for a run, have a yoga session, a massage, hot bath, or a cup of tea on the couch? Do something that makes you feel better that is good and pure. This teaches our kids how to comfort themselves when pampering is needed and you are not around.

As for your teenager, you can encourage them by getting them a simple gift that brings comfort, you can get some comfort gift ideas here. And don’t forget the power of prayer. Simply giving it all to our Heavenly Father to sort out, gives us natural peace. I also encourage prayer for protection over the Enemy. Body, mind, and spirit are all connected and affect each other.

John 14:27
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3. Eat foods for your brain

Food matters! Your brain needs fats, the good fats. And getting the clean kind in your body helps your body and brain fight off free radicals…those are the guys that destroy the good stuff. Here is a post about Omega Oils that will help you out. And don’t forget the avocados. I’ve got a great recipe here.

Your brain also needs to be hydrated. Drinking more water really does help with mood and clarity. There are many benefits to water. Stick with filtered water, there is no need to add sweetener or bubbles, your body knows what to do with plain water.

4. Journal

I know this sounds like old news, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Journaling works. When our thoughts are written down on paper, more so than typed, it’s like you’ve given yourself permission to let the hurt get out of you. Encourage your teen to write about their journey. Journaling is a great exercise to help express emotions yet feel like they have privacy. When asked the right journaling questions, there can be a lot of healing. Plus it’s fun to shop for their very own journal.

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5. Head to a hobby

A hobby can do loads for mental health. It keeps your hands busy and your mind focused on being creative…and being you! Here’s a post on hobbies with a list of different ones to try. It’s time to get creative and feel the goodness enter your heart.

Anger Management 101

I could end on that, but it’s important to reiterate that a ‘lack of understanding’ usually gets us upset in the first place. Why? Because we don’t understand! That’s why fights happen and judgments lash. We don’t know why people act the way they do, because we don’t live in their shoes. For all we know, they could be sick, have a chronic illness, be abused, have social issues, or be on drugs. And when we don’t know how to manage those things, a mess of emotions implodes and then explodes on others.

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When we have anger about something, we usually want to do something about it. I’m not talking about anger towards a person when you want to lash out at them for saying something stupid, that’s a different post. The anger I’m referring to is about how we react to either ourselves or a cause that affects other people. Some call it anger, others call it passion. You can take it a step further and call it uniqueness. There is this great book by Matthew Barnett, “The Cause Within You”. I highly recommend this book to not only inspire your own life but to motivate how to help others. Super good! And your teen would probably love it.

Moving forward

I’d have to say the majority of people try to ignore their mental state or try to numb it with something else like drugs, alcohol, shopping, or eating. You don’t need me to say those things just lead to other issues. You can also look at these things as signs that your teen is going through a tough season.

If you have tried some natural ways to manage mental health and it’s just not helping, another route to managing our mindfulness would to find a therapist, a Christ-follower if I might add. The only true healer and protector is Jesus. Your church would know of someone, or you can ask some friends. Be sure you straight-up ask them if they know Jesus, if they hesitate with their answer, walk out and find a new one. For more ideas, this post from Mental Health America is a good one!

Just so you know, I’m happy to pray for you and/or your teen. Simply contact me with your prayer request.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved.

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