Teen Mental Wellness Day: Mentally Supporting Young Adults As They Grow & Change

Annually on March 2nd, teens around the globe are the focus of World Teen Mental Wellness Day, a day meant to demonstrate support for the considerable challenges adolescents face in this modern world. The teen years have always been a stage of development during which emotions run high and there is an ongoing struggle to cope with rapid physical and emotional change. However, teens in the 21st century face unique challenges never faced by previous generations, not the least of which are the inundation of social media in their lives, and the continuing difficulties of life amid a global pandemic. It is not an overstatement to suggest that teens right now need an extra dose of love, kindness, and recognition for all they must handle.

World Teen Mental Wellness Day, as it is formally called, was started in 2020 by the Hollister Confidence Project, an offshoot of Abercrombie & Fitch, that is dedicated to beneficial projects in communities across America.

The goal of the day, according to Hollister literature, is to destigmatize struggles with mental health issues and encourage teens to “dedicate themselves to self care” on March 2nd. That practice takes many different forms, including posting positive messages to social media for others to see and take to heart; talking about their ongoing issues with self-confidence and self-esteem, and resisting feelings of isolation. (For more specific information about Confidence Project and its suggested activities for March 2nd, go to: https://nationaldaycalendar.com/world-teen-mental-wellness-day-march-2

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), teens today, known as “Gen Z,” are feeling more depressed, more anxious, and more helpless than any generation before them. That is an alarming statistic, particularly when coupled with another one from the APA: one in seven teens surveyed admitted to having thoughts of suicide at some point in their lives.

The good news is that 94 percent of those surveyed also said they understood that self-care is vital to their mental health, and want to create the kind of life that fosters that good health. More positive news is that studies show that Gen Z is more likely to find professional help for their mental health than any generation before it, including millennials.

Why are some teens struggling with anxiety and depression? We did a deep dive into several respected sources, including the APA, to find out some of the issues causing Gen Z so much pain. Here are some of the most pressing concerns most often expressed by survey subjects.

1. Prospects for future employment.

Even teens who know what they want to be when they leave college worry about finding steady employment. Will they land a job that allows them to live comfortably and buy a home? Will they be able to afford to raise children? These issues are like branches on a tree, each one stemming from the original dilemma of finding steady, rewarding work. Concerns about future student debt piling up during the college years is also an emotional burden stressing teens.

2. The impact of social media on self-image and esteem.

All teens surveyed recognized the important place social media holds in their lives. And while they realize that, for example, photos on Instagram are often cropped and blurred to make the subject look better, teens sometimes feel inadequate when comparing themselves to those images. Girls, in particular, are vulnerable to this sense of not being good enough, fit enough, or attractive enough. And if these are exacerbated by online bullying, depression may deepen.

3. The pandemic and changing roles within families.

The pandemic has been tough on teens. Many have had to add tutoring of siblings to their regular tasks, and extra childcare if parents are gone for lengthy stretches. Although teens are remarkably resilient, a lot has been asked of them lately, and for some teens, the demands have proved heavy. 

How Teens Manage Their Mental Wellness:

It’s true that teens cope with a lot these days, but it is equally true that they are very self-aware, and know many strategies that help them cope. Some of these practices include:

  • Getting lots of fresh air and physical exercise, which helps them relax and elevates their mood.
  • Practising mindfulness, including deep breathing exercises, to balance mood and lessen stress.
  • In addition to cardio, many teens have taken up yoga, Pilates, swimming, and other disciplines that demand complete focus and calm. These help teens stay on an emotional even keels.

How Families Can Help:

A strong support system and parents who are willing to talk openly about mental health and well-being are both crucial factors in healing their anxiety and depression. Seeking therapy or counseling for their child is another way parents can help before their children’s challenges become overwhelming.

World Teen Mental Wellness Day presents the perfect opportunity for parents to candidly reinforce their love of, and appreciation for, the teen in their lives. Of course, spending time with them continually is important, but take advantage of the theme of March 2nd, and do something special with your teen. Take them for lunch, go for a hike in the fresh air – any activity they enjoy that gives them the opportunity to open up and talk will be beneficial to you both.  

Communicating with teens is vital; if they are to feel supported and valued, they must feel heard. Offer them whatever tools they need to handle the problems and worries they’re experiencing, and together you can tackle the issues they face and come out stronger on the other side. As long as they feel loved and nurtured, teens can handle almost any challenge to their mental health and wellness.