The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report describing children’s mental disorders in the U.S. The report found that 1 in 5 American children ages 3 through 17 — approximately 15 million have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder in any given year. The report further found that only 20 percent of these children ever receive a diagnosis with subsequent treatment, leaving 80 percent — about 12 million — who don’t get help for their condition.
Another study by the Pew Research Center that studies social and demographic trends, found that 70 percent of teenagers viewed mental health as a big issue.
These statistics may seem dismal, but there is always hope. And with the New Year upon us, it is a good time to help our teens set goals toward achieving good mental health. Here are some mental health resolutions worth setting with your teen, as well as yourself as you work toward mental fitness in the new year and beyond.
Take a Mental Health Evaluation
The first step in moving forward is knowing where you stand right now. A way to do this is by taking a mental health evaluation. There are many available online like this one from Mental Health America that can help your teen self-assess herself. These tests should not be used as a self-diagnosing tool, rather as a tool to allow your child to evaluate the way she is feeling so decisions can be made to improve upon her mental health.
Make SMART Goals
The new year can be a great time to make goals, and teens, just like adults often see it as a time to change for the better. Just like adults, teens often fail at their attempts simply because change is hard, and when it doesn’t come as quickly as we’d like, we get discouraged. This is why it is so important to set SMART goals.
SMART is an acronym to help make your goals more feasible. SMART stands for: Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timetable. Making goals around these key elements can make for a more successful New Year’s plan.
Make Exercise and Nutrition a Focus
Something often overlooked when working on mental health are the physical health and nutrition components. Many with anxiety report feeling tired and run down. Some may even have depression that is related to body image, whether it is excessive weight gain or loss. A simple change in nutrition and exercise could very well be a key toward a positive shift in mental health.
Take this time to focus on a nutrition plan that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains and healthy meat and dairy options. Choosemyplate.gov has some great resources for balanced nutrition, with a lot of help geared toward teens.
See Failure as a Step Forward
Failure isn’t a bad thing. Getting a bad grade in school can be a catalyst for better grade next term, or even solidifying to yourself that chemistry is not an industry you want to pursue as an adult. Losing a friendship may seem like the world is ending, but keeping your head up is a great way to find a new friend.
Everyone at one time or another — or another and another — will experience times of great sorrow and frustration followed by times of awesome. What goes down must inevitably go up if you keep walking the path of life. And when we anticipate that failure is part of the process of success we are less likely to let failure sink us. In truth, we all should be thinking about mental health in a more positive, preventative way like we do physical health.
Make goals for regular sleep, self care, family connection, stress management, appropriate social media use and community connection. These actions are very much preventative and enhance your mental fitness. If you feel you are struggling with your mental health don’t wait to get help, reach out to us today!