“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” - Fred Rogers.
We strive to accomplish many goals in our program; one of the most important is to empower teens with the ability and the courage to discuss difficult things. We want to be a place of comfort and a place of understanding, where anyone can come and feel supported for whatever might be happening in their life.
We've spent a considerable time with today's teens and here's what we have noticed.
We can conclude that teen mental health issues are on the rise. Here are a few staggering statistics:
20% of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood
The rate of teen stress rivals that of adults
31.9% of teens struggle with anxiety
The rate of teen substance misuse has dramatically risen
Despite an advisory from the Surgeon General on protecting youth mental health, the results are not moving in the teens' favor. We are on a mission to fight against exclusion and empower teens to become kind and confident community members.
"The narrative youth are hearing is that it's been so hard, which it has through COVID. But we are saying, 'now's your time.' They are rising up and showing the world what they are truly able and have the capacity to do." - Bekah, Founder and Executive Director
Teens are overwhelmed and stressed out.
There is ever-present pressure to succeed, but teenagers feel this pressure at an intimidating level. Many teens participate in more extracurricular activities than ever before and are often encouraged by their parents and teachers to compete for top spots in elite colleges. Many teens now feel that they must be perfect at school and sports, hobbies, and other activities—and that all these things will lead them to success later on in life. This pressure to succeed can make teenagers feel like they are facing constant judgment. We want LIFT to be a place where they can come to decompress in a stress-free environment.
Teens today don't feel safe.
But it's not just real-world events that keep teens on edge.
There's no doubt that adolescence is a highly awkward time in everyone's life—it's full of significant changes and experiences that can make anyone feel like they're alone in the world. Many young people do not feel as though they have a place of safety where they can come with questions or concerns about their life - LIFT aims to be that for them.
Teens don't feel heard or respected.
It's important to stay empathetic and listen to what they say. Teens can be very frustrated by others not listening to what they have to say. It is important we give our teens our full and undivided attention and ensure they are validated in their feelings and work to understand themselves.
This is one of our goals at LIFT. To do everything to ensure that the teens we interact with daily feel heard, respected, and understood.
"Here, we have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, unkind words. So they know when they're here, they're accepted," - Bekah, Founder and Executive Director
The world is scary for teens.
It can be a brutal world out there and even more challenging when you're young. As the world changes and progresses more and more rapidly, young people are left to deal with the resulting social issues. In addition, social media has changed how teens communicate and can often cause social anxiety and cyberbullying to rise. The challenges teens face today can be overwhelming, but LIFT ensures they're not insurmountable.
There is strength in numbers and community safety —so don't be afraid to reach out if you feel alone!
Support and resources for teens can help them thrive and rise above the challenges.
Of course, a teen's mental health doesn't depend on just one factor: it's a complex mix of emotional, psychological, and social circumstances. So here at LIFT, we offer as much support to our teens as possible. Whether it involves going door-to-door for lunch dropoff, organizing and hosting safe school dances, or supporting teens by showing up for their performances and sporting events- we work to make sure every teen we interact with feels that with a little bit of help, they can survive this thing we all call young adulthood.
If this blog post brought up old memories of your teen self and your struggles, and you feel you could help us continue to impact the lives of teens in our community positively, click this link here and learn more about how you can get involved.