It’s not easy to be a young person in today’s chaotic and constantly changing world. Dealing with the burdens of our over-stressed, over-committed society — all while trying to grow, develop, and find happiness can lead to emotional overload.
That’s rough stuff when you’re just starting out in the world.
These numbers might sound scary, but there are ways to help our kids develop coping strategies that can improve their mental health and help boost the effectiveness of any other treatments.
Modern medicine has come a long way in treating psychological issues; finding skilled and compassionate psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists can help young people get better. Finding the right doctor is key; they need to be able to connect with their patients and offer tools and knowledge that support positive change. In addition to traditional treatments, there are support programs that have been proven to be extremely effective.
Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to help kids manage life’s struggles and even and transform how they perceive them. One study of college students found that meditation lowered blood pressure due to psychological distress. It also improved coping skills and helped lower their risk of hypertension.
Another study tested mindfulness meditation among students with learning disabilities (teens who tend to have higher levels of anxiety, school-related stress, and other issues). Participants showed major improvement, including decreased state and trait anxiety, enhanced social skills, and improved academic performance.
Yet another study tested mindfulness-based stress reduction in 14 to 18-year-olds in an outpatient psychiatric facility. Those who went through the program reported reduced anxiety, depression, and somatic (bodily) distress, and increased self-esteem and sleep quality. Also, a large-scale review of meditation interventions suggested that these programs increased self-awareness, self-reflection, emotional intelligence/regulation, and social skills. Pretty impressive stuff.
Best of all, a new study has shown that mind-body practices (meditation, yoga, etc.) can literally change DNA. As NBC News put it: “they actually have the ability to reverse molecular reactions to stress in our DNA that can lead to poor health and depression.” That’s huge, particularly for young people who are trying to adopt healthy habits for a thriving life.
The evidence is everywhere! Mindfulness and meditation can make a major difference when it comes to youth mental health.
If you’ve got a teen in need of mental health help — or you’re a young person yourself — there are lots of ways to benefit from mindfulness practice. Here are some suggestions:
Youth mental health affects all of us — and impacts our global community in a big way. We need to give our teens and young people the tools to make sure they’re happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. We can create a happier, kinder, and more inspired world together!