How to Support Our Teens' Mental Health - Written by Them
In one of our previous blog posts, A Year of a Pandemic's Effect on our Teens, we shared the grim but accurate picture of what life has been like during a worldwide pandemic for the younger generations. The post's conclusion was just as sorrowful as the beginning, with no clear end in sight nor an obvious solution.
We sat down with the teens and had an honest conversation about what could remedy the situation they've unwillingly found themselves in.
It began as you would expect any conversation to start when the minds of half a dozen teenagers are involved, unfocused, and centered around the upcoming school events and what their plans were for the rest of the week. Slowly but surely, they began to open up about the little victories they had found during the past year and how we, as adults, can support them.
For the privacy and confidentiality of the teens, there are no names listed with the quotes.
We asked, "How do you think we, as adults, could support the younger generations better during this pandemic?"
The response; somber faces and awkward laughter.
Quickly, the answers began pouring out of their mouths. Together we came up with a list of five different ways that the teens admitted would directly impact them amid the pandemic. We added the sixth way we can help the teens from our own experience with these beautiful souls.
1. Understanding from teachers
"I don't blame my teachers for it [difficulty of online school]. I feel like they don't have as much control as they deserve. The whole online program needs more care."
"Not only is college hard, now we have to do it with a pandemic and rules and guidelines."
"Teachers need to understand that what we're doing is hard."
"If there was one thing that was going to help me feel better, it would be to repeat this year.
I work better when I'm with people."
2. One-on-one mentoring and tutoring
"I think my motivation comes from other people. When people expect me to succeed, I think I try hard to impress them and live up to their expectations."
"I can focus better when I'm next to another person, and I think that even if I just had a one-on-one meeting with someone, I would feel a lot better."
"My motivation is gone, and I don't know how to get it back without help."
3. Doing something that is fun and making time for a relaxing activity that we enjoy.
"I want to get a big blanket, lay out in the yard, with music and cat treats, and all of the cats will come and visit me. I am the cat lord. *laughter* Things that make me laugh help motivate me."
"I need to have time to do the things I enjoy because that makes me want to work harder towards my goal."
"My anxiety gets worse when all I am doing is constantly working."
"Everyone likes different things, but I think it helps when we each get to do something that we think is fun."
4. Get involved in a program like LIFT.
"I love coming and hanging out here because I get to see my friends."
"Coming here makes it seem a little normal."
"I get to be myself here, which is awesome."
5. Variety in life, so we don't get bored.
"Every day is the same. You log into class, have lots of assignments, don't see your friends, and hang out at your house."
"I just want to go somewhere and see something new."
6. Talk with them
In the hour and a half that we sat down with them and had an honest conversation about how they are feeling and what we can do to help them was beneficial in itself. With each passing minute, we watched the teens open up more and hold back less.
Humans crave acceptance and to be heard- that is true with the younger generations as well.
We cannot begin to understand what goes on inside the head of anyone, much less someone under the age of 18, but we can choose to listen to them and give them the best possible support we can offer.
So, join a program, have a chat, go on an adventure, or grab a tutor, and who knows, you might discover something new about the humans you interact with each day.
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