Did you know that May was Mental Health Awareness Month? And May 9th, specifically, was Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day? It’s been a very special month for the mental health community so if you didn’t hear, now you know for next year!
Though I don't work directly with children, I do work with many parents, teaching them behaviors that are often a wonderful model for their kids and teens. I believe that as children grow and mature, their mental health becomes just as important as their physical health. I see this as a consistent theme for my parental clients and something they are challenged with on a daily basis. Let’s face it- Raising kids is hard work and teens have enormously high standards set by society these days; especially with social media being so readily available.
Statistics from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America show that around 80% of teens have a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60% of teens with diagnosable depression are not receiving any help at all to deal with these, frequently, crippling conditions. The teen years are often fraught with anxiety and depression in varying degrees. Perhaps it is a phase that they’ll grow out of-However often, it can be something much more serious.
On a daily basis the teenage mind, which is yet to be fully formed- is dealing with grades, homework, sports, extracurricular activities, social interactions with their peers and perhaps even heartache. 1 in 8 of these teens has anxiety or depression that could be diagnosed. Teaching, modeling and supporting your child with coping mechanisms to deal with these stresses that are coming at them from all sides, may be a start towards a healthier mind set (for both of you)!
I frequently suggest meditation as a tool for my clients to help with the overwhelm they feel as parents, as I have found it has helped me both personally and professionally in so many ways. Incorporating a meditation practice into my own life has provided me with insight into myself and also helps to set a firm foundation for how I start my day. I enjoy sharing this with my patients and find most are very receptive.
For example, a colleague of mine, Dr. Monisha Vasa is the Psychiatrist who is referenced here which suggests using meditation as a tool for teens to work through anxiety. There are meditation apps, classes, coaches and therapists that can give both you and your teen the mental resources you need. The article goes into more detail on these supportive methods; however, I highly recommend reading it for ideas on how to help if you have a teenager who’s struggling.
Joining with your teen and sharing their journey may help to allay the fear and uncertainty they’re feeling about the process of starting a meditation practice. Approaching them in a collaborative, rather than combative way, is a positive step you can take to start. Taking small steps to begin your own meditation routine will also help the beginning of their practice be less arduous and they’ll be less apt to add onto the stress and anxiety they’re already feeling. Setting manageable goals, with leniency when needed, will ease the pressure they are feeling.
Sticking with a consistent meditation practice has the opportunity to bring about many positive shifts for you both. One of the most important, is a closer bond with your child- as you are right there by their side! You and your teen may begin to feel more centered, calm and empathetic towards one another. And, especially for them, learning how to regulate their emotions at a young age can assist with so many aspects of their future relationships, leading to healthier more fulfilling lives.
I found this insightful quote that does a wonderful job of explaining what meditation can help you and your teen. “The goal of meditation is not to get rid of thoughts or emotions. The goal is to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and learn how to move through them without getting stuck.” - Dr. P. Goldin
As always, if I can be helpful in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out! All of my information can be found here.